Prosecutors recommend ‘substantial’ prison time for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) argued Friday that federal prosecutors’ latest filing in a case involving President Trump‘s former longtime attorney Michael Cohen means that Trump allegedly committed two felonies.
Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and frequent Trump critic, told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on “Hardball” that “we have a sitting president of the United States who committed two felonies while running for president.”
“When you look at what the prosecutors did in the Southern District of New York, they allege that Donald Trump directed two campaign finance violations. These are felonies and you can infer intent by looking at a defendant’s statements,” Lieu said.
— Hardball (@hardball) December 7, 2018
The filing by New York prosecutors does not explicitly name Trump, but rather refers to an “Individual-1” that it says Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” in steering payments to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the women claiming they had affairs with Trump before the 2016 election.
The document notes that Cohen worked for “Individual-1” as a personal attorney after the person “had become the President of the United States” and previously worked for the person when they “began an ultimately successful campaign for President of the United States.”
“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” the document states.
Several legal pundits weighed in on the development Friday, saying it appears prosecutors are alleging that Trump committed a felony regarding the payments to the women, which prosecutors say were meant to influence the election and are thereby violations of campaign finance law.
Cohen had previously implicated Trump when pleading guilty in August to a campaign finance violation involving the payments.
“I think my reading here is correct. If so, it is the first time federal prosecutors have said they believe Donald Trump committed a felony,” former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal tweeted.
I think my reading here is correct. If so, it is the first time federal prosecutors have said they believe Donald Trump committed a felony.
It is therefore huge news if this reading is right. @renato_mariotti @AshaRangappa_ do you agree? https://t.co/etkD8lKbyY
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) December 7, 2018
“Just to make it crystal clear, New York federal prosecutors concluded that the President of the United States committed a felony,” said former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.
Trump tweeted Friday shortly after prosecutors filed the Cohen document, arguing that it “totally clears the President. Thank you!”
Totally clears the President. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018