In what many described as one of the most acrimonious debates in the US presidential history, Donald Trump on Sunday night launched a remarkable threat against Hillary Clinton.
Mr Trump had prepared himself about half an hour before the start of the debate by holding a press conference alongside three women who have claimed they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton.
The Republican candidate told his rival, the Democratic presidential nominee that he would seek to imprison her if he was elected next month over her email controversy, claiming that she “has tremendous hate in her heart”.
“I hate to say it but if I win I’m going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” Trump said, adding that “There has never been so many lies, so much deception. The people in this country are furious.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
In response, Mrs Clinton said:
“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in this country.”
Mr Trump replied, to cheers in the audience: “Because you’d be in jail.”
“OK Donald, I know you are into big diversion tonight,” Clinton shot back, adding “Anything to get away from your campaign and how Republicans are deserting you.”
“Everything you have heard from Donald just now is not true. I am sorry to keep saying this but he lives in an alternative reality,” she added.
After the debate, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta dismissed the remark, telling CNN’s Brianna Keilar that Trump would never get the chance to follow through.
“Fortunately, he’s not in charge of the laws of the country and never will be,” Podesta said.
Asked about the remarks, Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway said the candidate was taking his cues from angry supporters.
“Donald Trump is channeling the frustration of a lot of Americans he hears from,” Conway said, adding that the anger stems from what some voters perceive to be “different set of rules for this woman, as goes her emails.”