“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.