Dem senator: Evidence in Cohen case could form basis of Trump indictment after he leaves office

Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats hope to salvage Biden's agenda on Manchin's terms  Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Bipartisan lawmakers announce climate adaptation bill MORE (D-Del.) on Monday said if President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE directed his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to engage in illegal payments to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, then the president could face indictment upon leaving the White House. 

"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 during an interview with CNN on Monday.

"That might well form the basis for an indictment after the president leaves office,” Coons, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, added.

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Last week, prosecutors alleged that in the months leading up to the 2016 election, Trump directed Cohen to make illegal payments to two women claiming they had affairs with Trump. It marked first time prosecutors made those accusations against the president.

Coons went on to tell CNN that he agreed with Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffCIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit MORE (D-Calif.) on the matter, who on Sunday said that Trump might "face the real prospect of jail time" after the release of the sentencing memo on Friday. 

"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 said on CBS's "Face the Nation" at the time.

 

When pressed during the interview whether he believes the president has made any impeachable offenses, Coons said he “can't reach that conclusion yet." 

Coons did say he would "ultimately be sitting as literally a member of the jury" should impeachment proceedings commence in the future, given his seat on the Senate.