After participating in “lock her up” chants on the campaign trail, Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters are expressing disappointment today as an aide says that the president-elect will not follow through on his promise to prosecute Hillary Clinton.
In an appearance on Morning Joe on Tuesday, Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway said that the nation needs to heal and that Trump will not appoint a special prosecutor to look into Hillary Clinton’s situation as he had previously promised.
“I think when the president-elect, who’s also the head of your party, tells you before he’s even inaugurated that he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content to the members,” Conway said. “And I think Hillary Clinton still has to face the fact that the majority of Americans don’t find her to be honest and trustworthy. But if Donald Trump can help her heal then perhaps that is a good thing. Look, I think he’s thinking of many different things as he is preparing to become president of the United States and things that sound like the campaign aren’t among them.”
After Conway’s remarks aired on television, Breitbart News, a far-right website widely read among Trump’s base, lead with the headline “Broken Promise.” Over the past two weeks, Trump has hinted that he will walk back some of his campaign rhetoric, such as when he said that he might not completely repeal Obamacare or that Mexico might not actually pay for the southern border wall. But this is the first time Trump’s hardcore fans have really expressed major disappointment in the president-elect.
The comments section of that Breitbart article, for example, is chock-full of disappointed Trump supporters, with the top comment reading, “I have to admit…that was not something I wanted to hear!!” This received 208 upvotes. Other users said they are angry that justice will not be pursued, saying that Hillary Clinton is allowed to break the law.
Meanwhile on The_Donald, the Donald Trump subreddit on which there is almost never anything but universal praise for Trump, many were also taken aback by this news, with one user writing, “If Clinton does not get charged and indicted in the next 4 years, I will be very disappointed in [Donald Trump]. It’s the most important thing, but follow through on your words.”
Still other hardcore Trump fans had a more positive reading of Kellyanne Conway’s comments, saying that even though Trump won’t pursue charges, his attorney general or the Department of Justice will. A comment on The_Donald reads, “Perhaps Donald just means HE will not personally prosecute Hillary. Donald will let DOJ decide and do the work (and take their recommendation for the appointment of a special prosecutor).”
And on Breitbart, a reader commented, “He said he didn’t want to pursue. Didn’t say the FBI wasn’t. Also, if he said right now that he was pushing hard for her then there is a 100% chance Obama would pardon her. Obama now thinks he doesn’t have to pardon her. I trust Trump to do what is best for our country.”
A similar position was taken by many Trump fans all across the internet, who insisted that Trump isn’t actually breaking a promise and that he has some other play here.
On 4chan’s politics board, one of the most far-right websites on which Trump fans assemble, one user suggested that Conway is lying and that Trump is just trying to lower Clinton’s guard, writing, “He’s said numerous times that he’s never going to announce his plans openly to fight terrorists and criminals. That includes Clinton as well.”
Rudy Giuliani, who was even more passionate about the “lock her up” chants during the campaign than Trump was, said this morning that he’d be supportive of the decision to not, in fact, lock her up.
“There’s a tradition in American politics that after you win an election, you sort of put things behind you,” Giuliani said, according to ABC News.
Kellyanne Conway’s comments aside, as president, Donald Trump will have no authority to decide whether a person is prosecuted.