WASHINGTON — California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday that President Donald Trump could “face the real prospect of jail time” after federal prosecutors said last week that the President directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments during the presidential campaign.
“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,” Schiff, the likely incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
The filing Friday by federal prosecutors in Manhattan was the first time prosecutors said Cohen acted at the direction of Trump to make payments during the 2016 campaign to silence two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump prior to his time running for office.
In the memo, prosecutors wrote: “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.” Individual-1 is the term prosecutors have been using to refer to the President.
Trump has denied the affairs and has not been accused of any crimes related to the payments.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight federal crimes, including tax fraud, making false statements to a bank and campaign-finance violations tied to his work for Trump, including the hush payments Cohen made or helped orchestrate.
Schiff also said Trump could wind up being the subject of a presidential pardon himself if he were subjected to potential criminal proceedings after he leaves office.
“We have been discussing the issue of pardons that the President may offer to people or dangle in front of people,” Schiff said. “The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next President has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump.”