Davis vs. Mukasey on Clinton emails_00004903.jpg
Mukasey vs. Davis: was Clinton email handling illegal?
02:27 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Former Bush Attorney General and Clinton critic Michael Mukasey hit Trump for his remark that Clinton "would be in jail" if he were president

Mukasey said Trump's threat "would be like a banana republic"

CNN  — 

Former Republican Attorney General Michael Mukasey has been one of the most vocal critics of Hillary Clinton over her email use, but he says Donald Trump’s threat to possibly jail her “is something that we don’t do here.”

Mukasey, who served as the nation’s top law enforcement officer under President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post in an interview Monday that “it would be like a banana republic” if Trump followed through on his threat at Sunday night’s debate.

“Putting political opponents in jail for offenses committed in a political setting, even if they are criminal offenses – and they very well may be – is something that we don’t do here,” Mukasey said.

Trump brought up apparent speeches Clinton made to Wall Street leaders released by Wikileaks, and repeated his calls to prosecute her at a Pennsylvania rally Monday.

“During a speech, crooked Hillary Clinton, oh she’s crooked folks, she’s as crooked as a three dollar bill. Here’s one, just came out. Lock her up is right,” Trump said in response to supporters’ chants.

Mukasey has forcefully criticized Clinton related to her use of a private email server as Secretary of State. He argued that she could have been criminally convicted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in January, titled “Clinton’s Emails: A Criminal Charge is Justified.”

But Mukasey expressed discomfort with Trump’s line of attack during the second presidential debate. While he maintained his belief that there is a legal case against Clinton, he cautioned against using the law to further political ends.

“If we were arguing policy here rather than straight law, I would argue against bringing charges,” he said. “The notion of carrying out prosecutions to pursue a political agenda, that’s something that should never happen.”

The former Republican official’s remarks echoed those of another former Attorney General, Democrat Eric Holder, who blasted Trump in a storm of tweets on Sunday for the threat.

“So @realDonaldTrump will ORDER hi AG to take certain actions- when Nixon tried that his AG courageously resigned. Trump is dangerous/unfit.”

Mukasey’s remarks also make him the second high-profile Clinton critic in recent days to come to the Democrat’s defense amid escalating attacks from Trump. In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Michael Chertoff – a lead lawyer during the Clinton Whitewater investigations and a former secretary of Homeland Security under Bush – said he was backing Clinton for president over Trump.

CNN’s Julia Manchester contributed to this report.