Donald Trump wanted to order his officials to prosecute both Hillary Clinton and James Comey, but was told he did not have the authority to do so, a new report has claimed.

In a development that came as speculation mounts about possible indictments that might be brought against Mr Trump or members of his campaign team by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, the report said in the spring of 2017, Mr Trump told former White House counsel Don McGahn he wanted the Department of Justice to pursue cases against the woman he defeated in his battle for the White House, and the person he fired from his position as FBI director.

The New York Times said Mr Trump was told by Mr McGahn he did not have the power to do so, despite his wide-ranging authority as president. Rather, it said, Mr McGahn tasked White House lawyers with composing a memo warning the president that asking for the investigation could lead to possible impeachment.

The newspaper said the alleged incident “was one of the most blatant examples yet of how Mr Trump views the typically independent justice department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies”. It said it had taken on added significance in recent weeks when Mr McGahn left the White House and Mr Trump appointed loyalist Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general.

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