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Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff claims Trump faces 'real prospect' of jail time


Bases comment on new court filing

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump faces the "real prospect of jail time" after he is no longer in the White House, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) said Sunday on "Face the Nation."

Why did he say that?

"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, who is in line to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in January, said.

Schiff reportedly based his comment on a court filing by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York on Friday. The filing recommended a "substantial" prison sentence for Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen. Prosecutors have said Cohen violated campaign finance law "in coordination with and at the direction" of Trump. The president, however, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Schiff believes the court documents imply the president coordinated and "directed an illegal campaign scheme" to influence the 2016 election.

The House Intelligence Committee and special counsel Robert Mueller would need to investigate further before it could be decided if that meets the standard for an impeachable offense, Schiff said on the program. The investigation would specifically include whether there was any collusion and coordination between Trump's campaign associates and the Russian government, according to the report.

Schiff also said a memo by the special counsel on Cohen includes information that contradicts Trump's campaign statements that he had no business ventures in Russia.

"In fact they were having private conversations seeking to enlist the Kremlin's help in a project that could make him tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, a project that might need Putin's approval while they were arguing that sanctions on Russia should go away," Schiff said. "That's pretty breathtaking."

The special counsel's document filed Friday shows new information dating back to November 2015 about Cohen's attempts to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to the report. Mueller's office has maintained that Cohen had a conversation with a Russian national who offered to help the president "in political and business affairs."

"In or around November 2015, Cohen received the contact information for, and spoke with, a Russian national who claimed to be a 'trusted person' in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign 'political synergy' and 'synergy on a government level,'" prosecutors wrote.

What's next?

Schiff said he wants Cohen to testify before Congress again after he takes over as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Although Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress, Schiff said he is confident in Mueller's assessment of Cohen. Schiff also said Cohen has recently been cooperating with the investigation.

"I have great respect for Bob Mueller and if he feels that Cohen is confiding now honestly about it, that's a pretty good indication that's what he's doing," he said.

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