- President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and judge, Michael Cohen, said the president’s pardon and sentencing changes could be a big mistake for close associates such as Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.
- Cohen tells MSNBC Monday that Trump by forgiving these allies can unintentionally give prosecutors the power to force these closest associates to testify against him.
- Cohen suggested that the people who pardoned Trump would no longer be able to plead the fifth amendment against self-incrimination, and therefore should follow the investigation into Trump.
- “So all these people could eventually be his downfall because they will testify against him, either in court or in a tribunal,” Cohen said.
- Trump faces several lawsuits and criminal investigations as he leaves the White House.
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President Donald Trump’s former coroner Michael Cohen has pointed to a possible issue in the president’s windfall of pardon and commutations that could bite him after he left the White House.
Talk to MSNBC Cohen suggested Monday that Trump give prosecutors the power to forgive former associates like Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, forcing them to testify against him.
‘This poses a huge problem for Donald Trump in the fact that once you receive that power of forgiveness, once you get the pardon, you are no longer able to invoke the fifth amendment – the right to self-incrimination – because you can not be charged, ”Cohen said.
“All of these people could therefore ultimately be his downfall because they will testify against him, either in court or in a tribunal,” Cohen added.
—MSNBC (@MSNBC) 28 December 2020
The fifth amendment enables a person not to answer the questions of an investigator or prosecutor in case a criminal case is used against them.
Cohen suggested that now that some of Trump’s associates have been pardoned, they no longer need to call the fifth amendment to protect themselves, thus opening the prosecutors’ door to using these people as witnesses to a criminal case against the to build president.
Trump has issued dozens of pardons and commutations in the past month as his first and only term of office comes to an end. But there are reports that Trump in his last days is considering even more pardons, including voluntary pardon for his children or close allies such as his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
While presidential pardons are usually issued to people who have already been convicted of a crime, the power extends, according to Reuters. However, this power only applies to actions that have already taken place.
Several lawsuits and criminal investigations are already awaiting Trump when he leaves office on January 20.
Among the criminal cases is an investigation by District Attorney Cyrus Vance of Manhattan into the Trump organization. Separately, New York Attorney General Letitia James is also leading a tax fraud investigation into Trump and the family business.
In his MSNBC interview, Cohen said he would probably have gotten a pardon if he had not turned on the president.
“I would have received one if I had agreed not to come out, not to speak truth with power,” Cohen said.
Cohen was sentenced in December 2018 to three years in prison for violations of campaign finances related to the 2016 election and for lying to Congress.