Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti said on Wednesday an indictment of a sitting president would lead to a "constitutional crisis." Continetti's remarks came during a discussion on Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier" of Michael Cohen's three-year prison sentence.
"Here's the question, though. For almost 50 years, it has been Justice Department guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted. And yet when you look at all of these filings and all of these documents from the New York attorney's office, or from the U.S. attorney's office in New York, you see them laying the groundwork for a potential indictment of a sitting president," Continetti said.
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"One has to wonder, are they actually going to defy precedent and do that and indict a sitting president? If they do, they will precipitate the constitutional crisis that we've all been worried about for two years. If they don't, then this is another mild irritant, I think, to Trump, politically," Continetti continued.
Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress. Cohen's crimes included "tax violations, lying to a bank and, during the 2016 campaign, buying the silence of women who claimed that they once had affairs with the future president."
Trump is alleged to have directed Cohen in campaign finance violations. The president told Reuters on Tuesday that payments intended to buy women's silence did not violate campaign finance laws.
Federal prosecutors in New York also announced a non-prosecution agreement with American Media Inc., the company that produces the National Enquirer. Prior to the 2016 election, AMI paid $150,000 to one of the women alleging an affair. AMI claimed it made the payment "in concert" with Trump's campaign to "suppress the women’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election."
According to Justice Department guidelines, "The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions."