US President Donald Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute one-time presidential opponent Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey, the New York Times reports.
Don McGahn, the White House counsel at the time, wrote a memo to the President outlining consequences for Mr Trump if he did order the prosecutions.
The outcomes ranged from the traditionally independent Justice Department refusing to comply, to congressional probes and voter outcry, the Times reported.
The New York Times also reported Mr Trump’s lawyers privately asked the Justice Department to investigate Mr Comey for mishandling sensitive government information and his role investigating Mrs Clinton’s use of a private email account and server, but law enforcement officials declined.
It was not clear if Mr Trump read the memo or pursued the prosecutions further, the New York Times said.
It was also not clear what specific charges Mr Trump wanted the Justice Department to pursue against Mr Comey and Mrs Clinton, the Times reported.
Mr Trump has publicly railed against Mrs Clinton’s private email use during her tenure as US Secretary of State, as well as her role in the Obama administration’s decision to allow a Russian company to buy a uranium mining firm.
He has also accused Mr Comey, without evidence, of leaking classified information.
The White House and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr McGahn’s lawyer told the Times his client would not comment on his legal advice to the President.
“Like any client, the President is entitled to confidentiality,” lawyer William A. Burck said in a statement.
“Mr McGahn would point out, though, that the president never, to his knowledge, ordered that anyone prosecute Hillary Clinton or James Comey,” Mr Burck said.
The New York Times wrote that Mr Trump has been accused of trying to exploit his authority over law enforcement “perhaps more than any president since Richard M Nixon”.
“Witnesses have told special counsel [Robert Mueller’s] investigators about how Mr Trump tried to end an investigation into an aide, install loyalists to oversee the inquiry into his campaign and fire Mr Mueller,” the it reported.
“In addition, Mr. Trump has attacked the integrity of Justice Department officials, claiming they are on a ‘witch hunt’ to bring him down.”