Michael Cohen says the associates Trump pardoned may now be forced to testify against him because they can no longer invoke the Fifth Amendment

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michael cohen donald trump
A composite image of Michael Cohen and President Donald Trump. Getty/Getty
  • President Donald Trump's former lawyer and self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, said the president's pardons and sentence commutations for close associates such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone could be a big mistake.

  • Cohen told MSNBC on Monday that by pardoning these allies, Trump could be unintentionally giving prosecutors the power to force these close associates to testify against him.

  • Cohen suggested that the people Trump pardoned would no longer be able to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and therefore must comply with investigations into Trump.

  • Trump faces multiple lawsuits and criminal investigations when he leaves the White House.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's former lawyer and self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, has pointed out a way the president's windfall of pardons and commutations may come back to bite him after he leaves the White House.

Speaking with MSNBC on Monday, Cohen suggested that by pardoning former associates such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, Trump was giving prosecutors the power to force them to testify against him.

"This produces a very significant problem for Donald Trump in the fact that once you receive that pardon power, once you get that pardon, you're no longer able to invoke the Fifth Amendment - the right against self-incrimination - because you cannot be charged," Cohen said.

"So all of these people may ultimately be his downfall because they'll be testifying against him, either before a court or before a tribunal," Cohen added.

The Fifth Amendment allows a person not to answer questions from an investigator or prosecutor in cases in which their words might be used against them in a criminal case.

Cohen suggested that because some of Trump's associates had been pardoned, they would no longer need to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights to protect themselves - thereby opening the door for prosecutors to use these people as witnesses to build a criminal case against the president.

Read more: Joe Biden is hiring about 4,000 political staffers to work in his administration. Here's how 3 experts say you can boost your chances of getting one of those jobs.

Trump has issued dozens of pardons and commutations in the past month, as his first and only term in office comes to an end. But there have been reports that Trump is considering even more pardons in his final days, including preemptive pardons for his children or close allies like his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

While presidential pardons are usually issued to people who have already been convicted of a crime, the power extends to anyone who has been charged or could be charged with a past crime, according to Reuters. (It does not apply to actions that have yet to take place.)

Multiple lawsuits and criminal investigations already await Trump at the end of his term on January 20.

Among the criminal cases is an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance into the Trump Organization. Separately, New York's attorney general, Letitia James, is also leading a tax-fraud investigation into Trump and the family business.

In his MSNBC interview, Cohen said he probably would have gotten a pardon if he had not turned on the president.

"I would have received one had I agreed not to come out, not to speak truth to power," Cohen said.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2018 for campaign-finance violations tied to the 2016 election and for lying to Congress.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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