Incoming top Democrats predict impeachment and jail time for Trump with increasing confidence

Donald Trump g20

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US President Donald Trump gestures as he talks to reporters while departing for travel to the G-20 summit in Argentina from the White House.

  • President Donald Trump could be jailed or impeached based on new legal evidence, top Democrats have said.
  • They were responding to claims that Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen facilitated two illegal hush payments to two women during the 2016 election.
  • Federal prosecutors on Friday accused Cohen of facilitating the payments "in coordination and at the direction of Individual-1," who is believed to be Trump.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Trump could "face the real prospect of jail time" as soon as he leaves office.
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described them as "impeachable offenses."

The incoming chairs of two powerful House committees have predicted a "real prospect of jail time" for President Donald Trump, and said that new accusations about Michael Cohen's illegal hush payments are "impeachable offenses."

Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told the CBS show "Face the Nation" on Sunday: "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.Advertisement

"We have been discussing the issue of pardons that the president may offer to people or dangle in front of people. The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump."

Schiff was responding to the latest sentencing document from federal prosecutors on Friday, which said that longtime Trump lawyer and confidant Michael Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1."

Individual-1 is widely believed to be Trump. The coordination relates to payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump.

"With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election," the memo said.

"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," it added. "As a result of Cohen's actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election."Read more: Federal prosecutors say Cohen committed crimes 'in coordination with and at the direction of' TrumpAdvertisement

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also told CNN that, if it is proved that Trump directed the payments, that would amount to "impeachable offenses."

Michael Cohen

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Federal prosecutors handed down a "substantial" prison sentence for Cohen.

He told CNN's Jake Tapper: "They would be impeachable offenses, whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question.Advertisement

"But certainly they'd be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office, that would be an impeachable offense."

Jerrold Nadler

Getty / Andrew Burton

Rep. Jerry Nadler, here in 2014, said that Trump's involvement in Cohen's actions - if true - were "impeachable offenses."

Nadler added, however, that Congress may not immediately impeach Trump because that would be "an attempt to, in effect, overturn the result of the last election and [Congress] should do it only for very serious situations."Advertisement

He said: "You don't necessarily launch an impeachment against the President because he committed an impeachable offense. There are several things you have to look at."

"One, were impeachable offenses committed, how many, et cetera. Secondly, how important were they? Do they rise to the gravity where you should undertake an impeachment?" he added.

"An impeachment is an attempt to effect or overturn the result of the last election and should do it only for very serious situations. That's the question."Advertisement

The new Congress will convene on January 3, 2019.