PORTLAND — Former Defense Secretary William Cohen, who served on the House Judiciary Committee that investigated President Richard Nixon, said Tuesday that he believes President Trump committed “an impeachable act.”

The Republican former senator from Maine told the Associated Press that threatening to withhold money from an ally, Ukraine, in return for a public pledge to investigate a political opponent is “tantamount to a criminal act.”

“To me it’s an impeachable act,” he said. If the allegations are proven true, then it’s “a form of bribery, a form of a high crime and misdemeanor,” he said.

Cohen, who has spoken out in the past against Trump, was in Maine for a lecture series bearing his name at the University of Maine. Former Secretary of State John Kerry took the stage with him at the event in Orono.

He said before the lecture that Trump has hurt U.S. standing and security with actions such as his abrupt decision to pull troops out of Syria.

The nation’s diplomatic corps is demoralized by Trump’s actions, Cohen said, suggesting it’s “pretty clear” that Trump attempted to push aside career diplomats in an attempt to have the Ukrainians negotiate with Rudy Giuliani.

Cohen served on the House Judiciary Committee when he broke ranks with Republicans to support impeaching Nixon during the Watergate investigation. Nixon ultimately resigned before he could be impeached.

Cohen said he doubted that the Republican-led Senate would vote to impeach Trump but suggested that it would be a good exercise.

“It’s really important that we lay out the facts and say, for the future, that we want to maintain high standards for our president and elected and appointed officials. We don’t want to lower those standards,” he said.

Comments are no longer available on this story