Kellyanne Conway, new campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speaks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Aug. 17, 2016.
Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP

Team Trump can’t keep its story straight on imprisoning Clinton

The more Donald Trump calls for imprisoning his opponent after the election, the more unease he creates, even in his own party. A variety of officials from Republican administrations have openly acknowledged that Trump’s rhetoric is as radical as it is dangerous.

Yesterday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said his party shouldn’t tolerate Trump “threatening to jail his opponent after the election.” The Arizona senator added, “That is not who we are.”

For their part, Trump and his team can’t quite keep their story straight. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN yesterday that when Trump says Hillary Clinton “has to go to jail,” he doesn’t mean Clinton has to go to jail.
“(Trump) is talking about going around the Democratic process, I mean talking about jailing your political opponent is something –” CNN’s Briana Keilar told Conway on “The Situation Room.”

“No he’s not, he’s talking about the result. No, he’s not. You’re taking it literally,” Conway responded.
Trump has explicitly said, over and over again, he intends to abuse his power, politicize federal enforcement, prosecute his former rival, and put her “in jail.” Yesterday, the GOP nominee went so far as to tell supporters that Clinton’s attorneys also “have to go to jail.”

Does Conway perceive a subtle metaphor in these vows that eludes me?

If Trump doesn’t mean it literally, what exactly does he mean by, “She has to go to jail”?

Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, told NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell she was taking Trump’s words “out of context,” because his promise to imprison Clinton was “obviously just a back and forth” in a debate.

First, I have no idea what that means. When a presidential candidate says what he or she believes during a debate, that counts, whether it’s part of a “back and forth” or not.

Second, Trump has followed up on his debate performance by repeating the line, publicly and through social media, effectively making Clinton’s incarceration a key part of his campaign’s closing message.

If you don’t find this alarming, perhaps you’re not paying close enough attention.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Team Trump can't keep its story straight on imprisoning Clinton