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Sens. Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Cornyn and Mike Lee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the days after prosecutors revealed that Michael Cohen paid off two women "in coordination with and at the direction of" then-candidate Donald Trump, top Democrats have said the president's alleged actions during the 2016 campaign could leave him open to impeachment — or possibly even indictment when he leaves office.

The other side: Top congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have largely dismissed Trump's place in the allegations, arguing that Cohen is not credible, that the investigation is tainted by Democratic bias, and that campaign finance violations are a minor offense. Or, as Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) argued, Cohen's plea is "a long way from collusion with a foreign agent to influence the election in 2016."

  • Reality check: Special counsel Robert Mueller is still investigating the Trump campaign's links to Russia, a probe in which Cohen has also pleaded guilty for lying to Congress. The Cohen investigation in the Southern District of New York is distinct from the Russia investigation.

What they're saying:

  • Kennedy: "Jesus loves [Michael Cohen], but everybody else thinks he's an idiot. He's obviously a sleaze-oid grifter. And if I were a prosecutor, I wouldn't base a prosecution on evidence given to me by Mr. Cohen. ... Campaign Finance Act violations are, generally, civil matters."
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): "I don’t think he was involved in crimes. But even then, you know, you can make anything a crime under the current laws if you want to. You can blow it way out of proportion. ... The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president." When CNN's Manu Raju informed Hatch that it was federal prosecutors who had implicated Trump in a crime, not Democrats, Hatch replied: "OK, but I don’t care. All I can say is he’s doing a good job as president."
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): "I think what [the Cohen guilty plea] shows is that if the president hires an attorney to solve a problem, he expects them to do it in legal manner. ... If an impeachable offense is a campaign finance problem, there's a lot of members of Congress who would have to leave. ... We’ve investigated this for a long period of time. Both sides have come up with nothing in the process. I think we should put the American people first."
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): "As long as Cohen's a liar, I shouldn't give much credibility to what he says."
  • Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.): "I think at this point we have an incomplete picture, and I think at this point the president ... has denied some of these allegations that have been made. Michael Cohen obviously has plenty of incentive now to cooperate and the representations that he makes, I think you have to, you know — there are going to be some questions raised about those as well. So I guess my view is that, let's wait."

Go deeper: Read the two Michael Cohen sentencing memos

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.