Trump Could Be Indicted Even After He Leaves Office, A Top Democratic Rep. Says
On Friday, a U.S. attorney filed a sentencing memo recommending significant prison time for President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen. As a result of the information contained in this memo, Democratic representative Adam Schiff suggested that Trump could be indicted after leaving the White House. In contrast to Schiff's assertions, Trump has insisted the sentencing memo affirms that he engaged in no wrongdoing. "Totally clears the President. Thank you!," he tweeted on Friday.
As CBS reported, Schiff is a representative from California who is set to become the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee once the new session of Congress convenes in January. During an interview on Face the Nation on Sunday, Schiff suggested that Trump could potentially face criminal charges and a prison term after his presidential term ends.
"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," the California representative said.
While Schiff believes that the contents of Cohen's sentencing memo potentially implicate the president in criminal activity, the White House asserted that the memo reveals no new information.
"The government’s filings in Mr. Cohen’s case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known ... Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, per The New York Times.
Cohen's sentencing memo asserts that the former Trump attorney alleges he was acting on Trump's instructions when he coordinated payments to Stephanie Clifford (otherwise known as Stormy Daniels) and Karen McDougal, as the New York Times reports. Both women claim that they had affairs with Trump and that they were paid in exchange for their silence about these alleged affairs. Trump has repeatedly denied having affairs either woman and denied that any campaign funds were used for payments, the BBC reported.
The sentencing memo asserts that Cohen "himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1," the New York Times reported. The paper noted that "Individual-1" refers to Trump. The paper also indicated that prosecutors say that the payments made to Daniels and McDougal violated campaign finance laws — and Cohen pleaded guilty to violating these laws in August.
Schiff told Face the Nation that he believes that Cohen's revelations in the sentencing memo suggest that the "president of the United States not only coordinated, but directed an illegal campaign scheme" to potentially affect the result of the 2016 presidential election. Thus, Schiff believes there is a chance Trump could be indicted after he leaves office because of the information contained in the memo.
Again, Trump has not been charged with any crime and has asserted that he believes Cohen's sentencing memo clears his name. The president has also previously indicated that no campaign funds were used in the payments to the women. "They [the payments] weren’t taken out of campaign finance, that’s the big thing," he told Fox and Friends during an August interview. "That’s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn’t come out of the campaign; they came from me."
While Schiff appears to have strong feelings on the potential implications of Cohen's sentencing memo for the president, he would not say whether he believes the contents of the memo could spark possible impeachment proceedings against Trump.
"I think we need to wait till we see the full picture," he told Face the Nation.