President Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen tossed out a “theory” Tuesday night that the president will resign if he loses the presidential election this November in order to pave the way for Vice President Mike Pence to pardon him for any federal crimes he’s supposedly committed.
Cohen—who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence under house arrest after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, lying to Congress, and tax evasion—appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show to promote his memoir Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump.
Early in the interview, host Rachel Maddow brought up Cohen pleading guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws, noting that it was related to the hush-money scheme that the ex-Trump lawyer helped set up during the 2016 election in order to silence two women with whom Trump allegedly had extramarital affairs.
“The thing that I have never understood and I have pursued this story as hard as I’ve pursued anything in the Trump era and nobody’s been able to explain this to me,” Maddow wondered aloud. “Why were you the only one charged?”
The MSNBC star then pointed out that Cohen wrote in “great detail” in his book about the plan to cover up the payments with other members of the Trump Organization, including the president himself. She also noted that American Media, Inc. and its then-CEO David Pecker were said to have been heavily involved in the scheme but Cohen was the only one charged.
“Because they elected to make me into the scapegoat. I did what I did. I took responsibility for it,” Cohen replied, adding that Trump’s signature is on some of the checks.
“Why I’m the only one, it doesn’t make sense. As I stated, I was acting at the direction of and for the benefit of Mr. Trump,” he continued, adding: “And I guess the thank-you that I got from my loyal boss was Michael Cohen should, as I once said, take a bullet for him and lose everything.”
Maddow responded that the president was identified as “Individual 1” by federal prosecutors, stating that Trump was “clearly the one who directed the commission of those felonies.” She then pressed Cohen on a point he tried to make in his book.
“You say at the very end of the book that the president and Attorney General William Barr ousted the U.S. Attorney of New York and tried to install, effectively, the president’s golfing buddy as the new U.S. 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 elaborated. “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 continued. “That this is certainly one way to avoid any potential prison time.”
Maddow, meanwhile, observed that this would be somewhat similar to the “prospective pardon” President Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon following Nixon’s resignation as president, which prevented Nixon from Watergate-related indictments after he left office.
In an earlier interview with NBC News, anchor Lester Holt asked Cohen what he would say to Trump if he could have another conversation with him, prompting the disbarred attorney to say he’d tell Trump to “resign now” and “let Mike Pence pardon you from any and all potential crimes.”