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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The New York AG and the Manhattan DA Might Go After Trump



In a little more than three weeks, Democrat Letitia James will take office as New York State's attorney general. David Klepper at AP:
Trump's critics have long looked to New York's attorney general as a backup if Trump were to pardon any associates convicted of federal crimes, since the president doesn't have the power to pardon people for state crimes. But there's a wrinkle in the state's double jeopardy law, which protects people from repeat prosecutions for the same allegations. The law includes several exceptions, but not one specifically allowing a state prosecution when a president has issued a pardon for similar federal charges.
That means anyone pardoned by the president and facing charges in New York could argue that without a specific exception to double jeopardy, the charges can't stick.
Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urged lawmakers to close the loophole shortly before he resigned in the face of allegations that he assaulted former girlfriends. His successor, current Attorney General Barbara Underwood then took up the cause. Democrat lawmakers introduced legislation, but the bills didn't pass. 
Prospects for closing the loophole will likely improve in January, when Democrats take control of the state Senate from Republicans. Democrats already control the Assembly.
"Given this federal administration's efforts to thwart our basic judicial processes — dangling pardons and attacking prosecutors — and recent developments regarding individuals close to this administration, it is time that we close the double jeopardy loophole," James said in a statement. "I am committed to working with leaders across the state to make this a reality because this loophole cannot be seen as a means to circumvent our justice system. No one is above the law, period."
In August, the NYT reported that Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance was taking a close look at the Trump Organization.