Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), who is poised to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in the new Congress, suggested Tuesday the president should go to jail for campaign fraud.
In an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Schiff said Michael Cohen's sentence should apply equally to his former client President Donald Trump, should the evidence show him guilty of the same crime. Cohen, the president's former personal attorney, alleges then-candidate Trump directed him to arrange payments to women who alleged having an affair with him, and in the process, knowingly violated campaign finance laws.
"If the Justice Department takes the position that Michael Cohen should go to jail, that these allegations are so serious he should go to jail for these campaign fraud allegations, what is the argument against jail for the individual who coordinated and directed that scheme?" Schiff asked to applause. Schiff cautioned that the prosecution might not have the evidence, but that the president ought enjoy no special protection. "The rich and powerful shouldn't play by some other set of rules. That argument applies with equal force to the president of the United States," he said.
Cohen received a three-year prison sentence last week after pleading guilty to lying to Congress. He admitted to undisclosed communications with the Russian government to advance a multi-million dollar real estate project in Moscow.
"I'm done with the lying. I'm done being loyal to President Trump. My first loyalty belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son and this country," Cohen said in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos last week.
Cohen's vocal propitiation in the courtroom and in a subsequent interview militate against any reconciliation between the president and his former attorney.
Speaking on Fox News last week, Trump said he "never directed" Cohen "to do anything wrong." He also alleged Cohen "made a deal to embarrass me." Earlier this week, the president reamed into Cohen for cooperating with the FBI, calling him a "Rat."
Schiff and others have expressed hope Cohen will testify publicly against the president. Earlier this week, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) said he wants Cohen to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. He wants him to "tell the American public exactly what he has been saying to [special counsel Robert] Mueller and others without interfering with the Mueller investigation."
Last week, Schiff predicted his account of justice would prevail. Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," he warned Trump "may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time."
During last night's episode, Colbert incorrectly claimed Flynn acted as an unregistered foreign agent while serving as the president's national security advisor. He quoted federal Judge Emmet Sullivan, who made the claim, but omitted Sullivan's subsequent retraction and apology.
Despite being shared on Twitter in advance of the show, it appears the Schiff's "jail time" statement was left on the cutting room floor when the show aired Tuesday night.