Eric Holder

Eric Holder

(CNN)— Former Attorney General Eric Holder predicted President Donald Trump may be prosecuted after his presidency if he doesn't first face impeachment proceedings while in office -- but warned of the possible risks to the nation.

The Obama-era attorney general's comments come as impeachment advocates hailed Thursday's Judiciary Committee's vote to formalize the rules of its investigation, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has avoided labeling the committee's probe as an impeachment inquiry.

CNN "Axe Files" host David Axelrod asked Holder whether he thought Trump is subject to prosecution upon leaving office, Holder replied, "Well, I don't think there's any question about that."

Holder referenced former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's guilty plea last year to campaign finance violations tied to hush money payments he made or orchestrated on behalf of Trump.

"We already have an indictment in the Southern District of New York where Michael Cohen (was charged) relative to the payoffs, Michael Cohen's already in jail with regard to his role there," Holder added, referencing court filings in the case referring to Trump as "Individual-1."

"It would seem to me that the next attorney general, the next president is going to have to make a determination," he added.

Axelrod also asked Holder whether there would be a cost to prosecuting Trump post-presidency in the absence of impeachment proceedings, citing former President Gerald Ford opting to pardon his predecessor Richard Nixon.

"Yes, I think there is a potential cost to the nation by putting on trial a former president, and that ought to at least be a part of the calculus that goes into the determination that has to be made by the next attorney general," Holder said.

"I think we all should understand what a trial of a former president would do to the nation, he added, acknowledging that Ford's decision may have cost him the 1976 election.

Holder added, "But you know, I think looking back, I tend to think that that was probably the right thing to do."

The former attorney general also reiterated his support for an impeachment inquiry.

"I think that they should proceed with an impeachment inquiry, an impeachment investigation," he added. "That doesn't necessarily commit you to actually impeaching the President."