David Kelley, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), appeared on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” on Thursday, and he dropped some bombs while discussing the latest regarding President Donald Trump.
Kelley’s former office has been conducting investigations related to Trump, and recently convicted Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen for offenses including campaign finance violations based on hush money payments to women. Cohen said those payments were directed by Trump himself.
At the 10:10 mark in the video above, host Ari Melber noted that it’s generally considered a given that Trump can’t face any criminal charges while he’s still in office for this or any other possible offenses. Kelley said it’s not that clear cut.
“First off, it’s a policy, it’s not the law,” Kelley said. “Policies can be bent, policies can be broken. I think it’s gonna depend on the facts and the gravity of the offenses that they find.”
Melber pressed Kelley on this, asking what he would if he was still in office and a president committed a crime.
“Would you have considered that a potential option on the table?”
“Sure,” Kelley said.
He went on to state that prosecutors would have to say, “Look, this is really bad, and the person should be prosecuted, and here’s why.”
On a similar note, he said SDNY prosecutors might only find evidence of minor offenses, in which case they may decide not to push against the policy.
Earlier in the conversation, Melber and Kelley talked about A.M.I. CEO David Pecker, who has a non-prosecution agreement with SDNY prosecutors that was announced soon after Cohen was sentenced. One of the charges against Cohen was based on his arrangement of a payment from A.M.I. to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, to essentially buy her silence regarding her claim that she had an affair with Trump. That payment was determined to be an illegal campaign violation, but Kelley said recent events involving A.M.I. could put Pecker’s deal in jeopardy.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused A.M.I. of threatening to extort and blackmail him with compromising photos. Kelley confirmed what Law&Crime’s Matt Naham wrote in February: if the allegations against are true, Pecker’s immunity deal could be thrown out.
“Typically if you enter a deal, you basically have to stay out of trouble or the deal gets violated,” Kelley said. “That happens not infrequently, and then you get hit with more charges and the deal gets ripped up, so I can see that certainly happening.”
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]