US Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears to have bowed to pressure from President Donald Trump and other conservatives to consider appointing a second special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton.
The move looks like a break from a longstanding convention that precludes victorious administrations of investigating past direct opponents and political enemies.
The Washington Post reported Monday US time that Mr Sessions has directed senior prosecutors to investigate alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia when Mrs Clinton was secretary of state in the Obama administration.
It comes just weeks after a Trump tweet on November 3 in which the president said he was disappointed with his “beleaguered attorney general” and that allegations about the Clintons and the Obama administration had not been investigated.
It also follows interviews in which Mr Trump said he was “very frustrated” that he couldn’t get the department of Justice or FBI to investigate what he believed was wrongdoing under his predecessor.
President Trump has repeatedly called on the Department of Justice and the FBI in recent weeks to investigate “crooked Hillary”.
During the 2016 election campaign he routinely led supporters in chants of “lock her up”, but immediately after his victory said he would not be pursuing Mrs Clinton and thanked her for her distinguished public service.
He now appears to have changed his mind.
If Mr Sessions moves to appoint a special counsel to investigate the matters, it would be the second such investigation mounted in Mr Trump’s first year in office.
Moreover, it would overturn decades of political convention.
“If he (Mr Sessions) or his deputy authorises a new investigation of Mrs. Clinton, it would shatter norms established after Watergate that are intended to prevent presidents from using law enforcement agencies against political rivals,” The New York Times said today.
Former FBI chief, Robert Mueller, is currently investigating links between the Trump campaign and Russia during the run-up to last year’s election.
Mr Mueller has already issued three indictments in the matter against members of the Trump campaign team and more are expected soon.
Democrat Congressman, Adam Schiff, criticised the move by Sessions to consider a second special prosecution.
He said in a tweet that if Mr Sessions bends to pressure from Trump “it could spell the end of the DOJ as an independent institution”.