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Photo #1 from Nahant, United States of America by B Samson [WildFyre] made on 2018-04-22 22:45 for Sola

New York Attorney General Seeks Power to Bypass Presidential Pardons - The New York Times

Sorry but as an AG you should be familiar with the 5th amendment. Double jeopardy.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York is moving to change New York state law so that he and other local prosecutors would have the power to bring criminal charges against aides to President Trump who have been pardoned, according to a letter Mr. Schneiderman sent to the governor and state lawmakers on Wednesday. The move, if approved by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature, would serve notice that the legal troubles of the president and his aides may continue without the efforts of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Under the plan, Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, seeks to exempt New York’s double jeopardy law from cases involving presidential pardons, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. The current law and the concept of double jeopardy in general mean that a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice. Right now, New York state law prevents people from being prosecuted more than once for crimes related to the same act, even if the original prosecution was in federal court. There are already a number of exceptions to the law, and the letter says that Mr. Schneiderman is proposing to add a new one that could be used if federal pardons are issued.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Schneiderman have a contentious past. Mr. Schneiderman led a three-year investigation of Trump University that resulted in a $25 million settlement. For his part, the president has dubbed Mr. Schneiderman “ the nation’s worst AG .” He has also called him a “ lightweight” and a “total loser ,” and even tweeted that he wore eyeliner . While Mr. Schneiderman’s jurisdiction does not encompass many of the areas being investigated by Mr. Mueller, a president has no authority to commute sentences or pardon offenses at the state level. That leaves convictions obtained by the state attorney general’s office or any other local prosecutor outside the president’s ability to intervene.

The proposal would be structured so that it would not affect people who sought clemency after long jail sentences, an aide to Mr. Schneiderman said. If the proposed law is passed, anyone indicted on state charges after being convicted in federal court and then pardoned would likely challenge the state law in court. But Mr. Schneiderman wrote in the letter that he and his advisers were confident the legislation would withstand any constitutional scrutiny. Even though New York is a reliably blue state, Mr. Schneiderman’s proposal is hardly a foregone conclusion, given the narrow political divide in the State Senate.

“We are disturbed by reports that the president is considering pardons of individuals who may have committed serious federal financial, tax, and other crimes — acts that may also violate New York law,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement provided by his office. “We must ensure that if the president, or any president, issues such pardons, we can use the full force of New York’s laws to bring such individuals to justice.” The White House declined to comment. The president has openly discussed his pardon powers, and reportedly even asked his aides whether he could pardon himself , though one of his lawyers denied it .

“The first is the specificity of the statute — of the exception — focusing on a limited number of people,” he said, noting that legislatures cannot make laws that apply to specific individuals. But he added that it was possible that such legislation, if properly drawn, would be constitutional. Mr. Schneiderman’s move could set off a battle in the State Senate, where Republicans have narrowly controlled the chamber through alliances with Democrats. Earlier this month, though, most Democrats in the chamber ended a long-running feud, which has left a degree of doubt over long-term control of the body. The state’s Assembly has long been a bulwark of liberal ideals.

State Senator Todd D. Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Island, said in a statement that he would introduce a bill to “close the glaring loophole” highlighted by Mr. Schneiderman’s letter. Mr. Schneiderman’s move is likely to inflame allies of Mr. Trump, who see Mr. Schneiderman as an opportunist bent on making political hay, and whom they see as unlikely to treat Mr. Trump fairly. This is hardly the first time Mr. Schneiderman has challenged Mr. Trump . A month before the 2016 election, his office ordered Mr. Trump’s foundation to stop raising money in New York amid scrutiny over Mr. Trump’s claims about charitable giving.

The $25 million settlement over Trump University came shortly after the election. Mr. Schneiderman called the settlement “a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.” The attorney general’s office has also investigated Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort, who was indicted on federal charges last year, though he deferred his inquiry amid the federal investigation.

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution has a double jeopardy clause that says “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” But that applies to multiple prosecutions of the same federal offense. The states are almost evenly split between those that have additional double jeopardy protections at the state level and those that do not. And Mr. Schneiderman has successfully backed changes to the double jeopardy law before. In 2011, the state closed what was known as the “ Helmsley loophole ,” named for the headline-grabbing hotelier Leona Helmsley , allowing it to prosecute tax cheats who had already been prosecuted federally.

“New York’s statutory protections could result in the unintended and unjust consequence of insulating someone pardoned for serious federal crimes from subsequent prosecution for state crimes,” Mr. Schneiderman writes in his letter, “even if that person was never tried or convicted in federal court, and never served a single day in federal prison.” Whether Mr. Schneiderman’s office would even seek to become involved in a criminal prosecution of Mr. Trump or his aides remains to be seen. But his move only adds to Mr. Trump’s legal problems.

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1 comment
Hanover Fiste
The Constitution is only there to serve my purposes, and is dumb when it doesn't serve my purposes.
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