White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to say Wednesday if President Obama would consider issuing a blanket pardon for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose charitable foundation is reportedly being investigated by FBI field offices for evidence of corruption, in order to spare her further investigation under incoming President Donald Trump.
"As you know, the president has offered clemency to a substantial number of Americans who were previously serving time in federal prisons, and we didn't talk in advance about the president's plans to offer clemency to any of those individuals," Earnest told reporters on Wednesday upon being asked about Donald Trump's threat in the final presidential debate to jail Clinton if he made it to the Oval Office.
"We don't talk about the president's thinking… with respect to any particular cases that may apply to any pardons or commutations," Earnest said when asked about Clinton's case.
Earnest also seemed to nudge Trump away from the idea of pressing for charges against Clinton once he takes office in January.
"What I would direct your attention to, though, is the president's observation that he made in the Rose Garden about the tone that President-elect Trump displayed in his remarks last night, and that tone is consistent with the longstanding traditions of our democracy," he said. "That's relevant because we've got a long tradition in this country of people in power not using the criminal justice system to exact political revenge. In fact, we go to great lengths to insulate our justice system from partisan politics."
The incoming commander-in-chief made no negative reference to Clinton or the various scandals that dogged her campaign during his victory speech Tuesday night, though his supporters repeatedly chanted "Lock her up!" as they waited for him to take the stage.
Rather, Trump commended Clinton for running a "very hard-fought" campaign and said Americans "owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country."
"I mean that very sincerely," he said.