On Thursday, Buzzfeed News reported that President Donald Trump ordered his longtime personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the timeline of his plan to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Legal analyst Neal Katyal, a former acting Solicitor General, said that if the reports are true Trump is guilty of suborning perjury, a crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison.
“This is not just nefarious behavior in terms of deceiving the electorate in 2016, it is a federal crime to order someone to lie in their testimony to Congress,” Katyal said. “That’s what the BuzzFeed article says, and it says the Mueller corroborated that with e-mails and text messages and electronic information. Again, we don’t know that. If it is true, it is a blockbuster, Don. It suggests the president himself committed felonies, not just directed other people to commit felonies but he did it himself.”
Katyal said that this is obviously an impeachable offense, and that it may even come as a relief to Trump.
“I am not sure Donald Trump at this point has anything else. I think he almost wants to be impeached at this point of his behavior with the wall and such,” he said. “He has no domestic agenda left. His domestic agenda is literally Twitter plus the wall. That’s about it. Impeachment would actually allow him to do what he loves, which is be a snowflake and pretend he’s the victim and the Democrats are this and that. But, at the end of the day, the impeachment process, if these facts are corroborated in today’s report, I don’t see how Congress can do anything else but commence an investigation into impeachment.”
Lemon pointed out that the report said that attorneys close to Trump helped Cohen fabricate his story to Congress.
“Attorneys close to the administration helped Cohen with his statement to Congress,” said Lemon. “Are they in any trouble?”
“Sure, there is a crime-fraud exception, lawyers can’t be helping people commit crimes using their law license in that way,” Katyal said. “If it did happen, sure, lawyers will be implicated as well. Just because you are an attorney, does not mean you are shielded from criminal prosecution or just as you are the president that you are shielded from criminal prosecution.