Washington: Donald Trump could be months away from facing impeachment due to his former lawyer Michael Cohen's guilty plea, a former adviser to the US president's campaign warned on Wednesday.
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts on Tuesday that included tax fraud, false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations tied to his work for Trump.
He also pleaded guilty for facilitating payments to prevent two women, including porn star Stormy Daniels, from discussing their "alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election."
"This is all they (Democrats) need for impeachment," Michael Caputo, a communications adviser during Trump's 2016 run for the presidency, was quoted by CNN as saying. "If the Democrats take over the House during the midterm elections, this indication coming out of the Southern District of New York, this charge, is enough for them to run an impeachment against the President, even in the first quarter," he said.
Asked if Trump was closer to impeachment than he was 48 hours ago, before Cohen pleaded guilty, Caputo said, "I believe so," adding that the recent indictments against Republican Representative Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California show that "we've got real problems in the House of Representatives."
Caputo also said he believes the mid-term elections in November will be crucial as it will determine whether voters support or oppose impeachment. "I really believe that the vote that voters make on November 6 is going to boil down to if they vote for a Republican member of the House of Representatives, they're going to vote against impeachment, and if they vote for a Democratic member of the House of Representatives or a challenger, they're voting for impeachment," he said. "This is all about impeachment. It always has been," he further added.
Cohen and Trump's ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort were both found guilty by courts in New York and Virginia on Tuesday of charges arising from FBI special counsel Robert Mueller‘s ongoing investigation into the possibility of Russian agents conspiring to hack the 2016 presidential election.
Trump and Russia deny allegations of collusion to influence the 2016 election outcome.
With his aides facing prison sentence, questions are being raised as to whether Trump could also be prosecuted.
Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis said Tuesday after the proceedings, "If those payments (of hush money) were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"
There are three impeachable offenses in the US — treason, bribery and the more opaque "high crimes and misdemeanors," but the House of Representatives has the responsibility to accuse the president of one of those things. If a majority in the House agrees, a president is then impeached. The Senate then votes on impeachment, which under the US Constitution requires a two-thirds majority.
In Trump's case, starting the impeachment process would require a mass revolt by Republicans against him in the Republican-controlled House.
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Updated Date: Aug 23, 2018 13:11:10 IST