Trump will pardon himself if he loses the 2020 election: Michael Cohen

  • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer, believes that Trump wanted to install a loyalist to head up the Manhattan US attorney’s office so he could arrange to be federally indicted and then pardon himself in the event that he loses the November election.
  • “The reason behind that unprecedented and serpentine thinking was that Trump knows perfectly well that he’s guilty of the same crimes that resulted in my conviction and incarceration,” Cohen wrote.
  • Cohen elaborated on that belief during an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, saying, “Well, my theory is that if he loses, there’s still the time between the election and the time that the next president would take office.”
  • “And during that time, my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him,” he added.
  • The White House slammed Cohen’s book and described him as a “disgraced felon” and liar who can’t be trusted.
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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer, believes that Trump tried to install a loyalist to head up the most powerful US attorney’s office in the country so he could arrange to be federally indicted while in office, and then pardon himself if he loses the November general election.

In his book, “Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump,” Cohen wrote about Attorney General William Barr’s recent attempt to oust the Manhattan US attorney, Geoffrey Berman, and replace him with Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Clayton, “not coincidentally, was a golf buddy of the President and almost completely inexperienced in criminal law,” Cohen wrote.

He was “exactly what Trump and Barr wanted: a lackey,” he added. Ultimately, Barr was forced to appoint Audrey Strauss, Berman’s top deputy, as acting Manhattan US attorney after a public standoff with Berman. Berman eventually stepped down when Barr conceded and said Strauss would take over in an acting capacity until a permanent successor was confirmed by the Senate.

Cohen wrote that the reason Trump wanted to replace Berman, “I knew better than anyone, was so that while in office, he could arrange to be federally indicted. In the event he loses the election in November, he could then pardon himself, as he’s long claimed to be his right.”

“The reason behind that unprecedented and serpentine thinking was that Trump knows perfectly well that he’s guilty of the same crimes that resulted in my conviction and incarceration,” Cohen wrote.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August 2018 to eight counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud as part of the Southern District of New York’s investigation into illegal payments made during the 2016 election to the adult film star Stormy Daniels. Three months later, Cohen also pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress as part of the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

In his guilty plea, Cohen said that he acted at the direction of and for the benefit of Trump, who was named as “Individual-1” in the SDNY’s charging document against Cohen. The president’s former fixer also said he lied to Congress about the now defunct Trump Tower Moscow project to shield Trump from congressional or legal scrutiny.

In his book, Cohen wrote that Trump would try to preemptively pardon himself because “he also knows that I would be a star witness in that case, and my book a fundamental piece of evidence for his guilt. Without the immunity from prosecution granted to the president, Trump will also almost certainly face New York State criminal charges.”

The president and his businesses have drawn intense scrutiny from both the New York state attorney general’s office as well as the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Trump is currently fighting a protracted legal battle with the latter to prevent Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., from obtaining his long-concealed tax returns.

“He would likely be convicted on both the Federal and State charges and face serious prison time,” Cohen wrote, though he did not elaborate. “That is Donald Trump’s greatest fear in life, believe me, and if he fails to get reelected, that will be his fate — and he knows it — so silencing me was an essential part of his overall plan to evade the law and avoid that outcome.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked Cohen about the excerpt when he appeared on her show Monday night.

“You say at the very end of the book that the president and Attorney General William Barr ousted the US attorney of New York and tried to install, effectively, the president’s golfing buddy as the new US attorney there because the president, in your view, wanted to arrange for himself to be indicted while he’s still in office because that would give him the opportunity to pardon himself after he lost the election,” she said.

“Well, my theory is that if he loses, there’s still the time between the election and the time that the next president would take office,” Cohen said. “And during that time, my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him.”

“And it’s a very, let’s just say it’s a very Nixon-type of event and it was probably discussed between Roger Stone and President Trump at some point,” he added. “That this is certainly one way to avoid any potential prison time.”

The White House slammed Cohen’s book and described him as a convicted felon and liar who can’t be trusted.

“Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement over the weekend. “He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”

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