“There’s no question about it,” Nick Akerman said on MSNBC. “This makes the president of the United States an unindicted co-conspirator.”
Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, admitted in his plea deal that he illegally interfered in the 2016 presidential election “at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” presumably Trump.
That, Akerman said, makes Trump an “unindicted co-conspirator,” a term used by the Watergate grand jury to describe Nixon’s role in the scandal, which ultimately led to his resignation.
“This is the first time this has happened since Richard Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate trial,” Akerman said. “This is a big deal.”
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the deal means “there is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president.”
Akerman dismissed that as “nonsense.”
“The fact of the matter is, if you read this indictment, he’s doing it at the direction of Donald Trump,” he said. “And if he’s doing it at the direction of Donald Trump, there’s a conspiracy. It’s an agreement, an agreement to commit campaign financing crimes. It’s a five-year felony. This is a serious matter.”
Akerman wasn’t the only one to use the ominous Watergate-era phrase on Trump.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, made a similar comment on Fox News.
“If the prosecutors accept what is in this indictment, then the president just became an unindicted co-conspirator,” he said. “If they believe that what’s in this indictment was true, and that he was directed to make this payment ... then the president just became an unindicted co-conspirator, and he could become an indicted co-conspirator depending on the timing and circumstances.”
Other legal experts used the term in an analysis for Vox.
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place