New York Attorney General Wants To Weaken Trump's Pardon Power
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman outlined a bold proposal Wednesday to undermine President Donald Trump's pardon power and his ability to save himself and his associates from criminal prosecution.
The plan, detailed in a letter to lawmakers, involves changing the state law to allow prosecutors to charge people for crimes, even if they have already faced charges for the same action at the federal level. This would potentially give state-level prosecutors the ability to charge people Trump has pardoned for federal crimes.
Under current New York law, double jeopardy statutes prevent the government from charging a person with crimes more than once. This means that if someone were charged and acquitted of say, money laundering, in a federal court, New York prosecutors could not then try to prosecute the person for the exact same crime.
This may be relevant to the case of Trump's attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen is currently under investigation by the office of the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York. If he were charged with a federal crime, but Trump pardoned him, New York could not try him again for the same criminal acts.
Schneiderman's proposal would change that. So if Cohen were pardoned of a federal crime by Trump, and that crime also violated state laws, New York prosecutors could bring those charges as well. And since the president does not have the authority to pardon state crimes, Cohen, or anyone else who committed crimes in the state of New York, would still face legal jeopardy.