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Former Maine Sen. Bill Cohen: 'There Will Be No Rules That Will Be Unbroken' If Trump Wins 2nd Term

J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press
Former Maine Sen. William Cohen, left, and former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn listen to testimony in the Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for James Mattis as defense secretary, Jan. 12, 2017.

Former Maine Republican Sen. William Cohen says President Donald Trump's assault on democratic institutions will intensify if he's elected to a second term.Cohen, who also served in the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of Defense under Presisdent Bill Clinton, told PBS NewsHour's Christiane Amanpour Wednesday that a second term would further embolden a president who has already demonstrated a disregard for norms and checks on executive power.

"There will be no rules that will go unbroken, in my opinion, because he feels that he is above the law, that he is the face of the law, that he is the face of the Justice Department, etcetera," Cohen said.

Cohen said that Trump has committed impeachable offenses by openly asking foreign governments to dig up dirt on his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Cohen, who voted for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon as a freshman congressman in 1974, told Amanpour that people should check their partisan affiliation when assessing whether it's OK for Trump to do that.

"You may think it's OK for this president. But do you want to set the standard, and lower the standards, for every other president in the future? Because what is good for President Trump will be good for them," Cohen said.

He also said Trump's effort to get Ukraine to investigate Biden isn't "perfect," as the president has asserted, but "perfectly corrupt."

Cohen will appear with former Secretary of State John Kerry for a lecture at the University of Maine next Tuesday.

Originally published Oct. 31. 2019 at 12:18 p.m. ET.

Correction: a previous version of this post referred to Cohen as a former Congressman, rather than a Senator. We regret the error.