Top US Democrat says Trump may face jail over hush money

Donald Trump on Monday defended hush money payments reported by his former lawyer, responding a day after Democratic lawmakers said the US president could face impeachment and jail time if the transactions are proven to violate campaign finance laws.

UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump could face jail time if hush money payments reported by his former lawyer are proven to be campaign finance violations, top Democrat Adam Schiff said on Sunday (Dec 9).

"My takeaway is that there's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him. That he may be the first President in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," said Mr Schiff.

Mr Schiff, the incoming House Intelligence Committee chair, minced no words when asked on CBS' Face The Nation on Sunday about bombshell developments in the Michael Cohen case last week.

Federal prosecutors have outlined their belief that then presidential candidate Mr Trump, described as Individual One in court filings, instructed Cohen to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and another woman who claimed to have had affairs with Mr Trump. Those payments come in the run-up to the 2016 election.

"To have the Justice Department basically say that the President of the United States not only coordinated but directed an illegal campaign scheme that may have had an election-altering impact is pretty breathtaking," Mr Schiff said.

Mr Trump on Sunday once again decried the Russia probe, directing his ire at former FBI chief James Comey, who delivered private testimony on Capitol Hill last week. Mr Trump, citing few specifics, called Mr Comey's testimony, "all lies".