Schiff: If Cohen deserves jail time so does Trump

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial The Memo: Day One shows conflicting narratives on impeachment MORE (D-Calif.) argued Tuesday that if President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE's former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen deserves jail time for campaign finance law violations, the president should not be precluded from facing a similar punishment.

"If the Justice Department takes the position that Michael Cohen should go to jail, that these allegations are so serious that he should go to jail for these campaign fraud allegations, what is the argument against jail for the individual who coordinated and directed that scheme?" Schiff said during an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

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"The rich and powerful shouldn't play by some other set of rules," the congressman added. "That argument applies with equal force to the president of the United States."

Schiff was elaborating on his comments from earlier this month when he said there's a "very real prospect" Trump could face jail time upon leaving office.

The lawmaker's assertion came after federal prosecutors in New York said in a legal filing that Cohen violated campaign finance laws when he arranged payments to two women during the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump.

The filing said the payments were directed by "Individual-1," whose description matches that of the president.

Cohen was sentenced last week to three years in prison for the campaign finance violations and other crimes he pleaded guilty to in August.

Trump has denied he directed Cohen to break the law. He has insisted that the campaign payments were legal, but that if there was a mistake in making them, Cohen would be liable.

Schiff, the likely incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has been among Trump's most outspoken Democratic critics. The two have regularly exchanged barbs, with Schiff calling the president "dishonest" and questioning his decency, and Trump dubbing the lawmaker "little'" and referring to him as "Adam Schitt" on Twitter.