Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said if President Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to make illegal hush payments during the 2016 election then he could be indicted after he leaves office.
“The evidence that’s been presented in the Michael Cohen case – that the President directed him to engage in payments that were intended to influence the outcome of the election – really sharpens the President’s legal risk here,” Coons said, adding, “that might well form the basis for an indictment after the President leaves office.”
In a sentencing memo on Friday, prosecutors from the Manhattan US attorney’s office said Cohen acted at the direction of Trump to make payments to silence women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump prior to his time running for office.
Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, said he agrees with California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff that Trump could face jail time after he leaves office. Schiff said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation”: “My takeaway is there’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first President in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”
“Do you agree with Congressman Adam Schiff, who’s going to be the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that President Trump could be indicted and possibly face jail time after he leaves office?” Wolf Blitzer asked Coons Monday on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”
“Yes,” Coons responded.
When asked if Trump has committed impeachable offenses, Coons said: “I can’t reach that conclusion yet,” adding as a member of the Senate he would “ultimately be sitting as literally a member of the jury” if impeachment proceedings were to proceed.
When asked how the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives should proceed, Coons urged the new majority to focus on proposing legislation to help “average Americans.”
“I think the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in January ought to be focusing and dedicating their time to proposing legislation that would actually solve the problems facing average Americans – rising health care costs, an opioid crisis, a need for stronger skills and better jobs through an infrastructure package,” Coons said.
Coons added that New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, “will have a fair amount of work to do to improve the transparency of this administration” and to protect the Mueller investigation from “undue interference.”