New York Attorney General Moves to Prevent Trump from Stopping Prosecution

Joe Scudder
Written by Joe Scudder

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is worried that by pardoning federal charges, state rules against double jeopardy will block the prosecution of Michael Cohen.

Now that Michael Cohen is arrested the New York Attorney General doesn’t want Donald Trump to be able to give him any protection. So he has asked the state legislature to change the rules. Without the changes, if they proceed to trial, and Trump pardons him, they could fall afoul of the state rules regarding double jeopardy.

The legislators are already taking action to make the change.

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This entire “investigation” is nothing more than a political battle!

CNBC reports, “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asks to close loophole that could let Trump pardons block state charges.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday asked state legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to close a loophole that could let recipients of pardons for federal crimes from President Donald Trump avoid state criminal charges.

Schneiderman said he was asking for the loophole to be eliminated because of “disturbing news” that Trump “may be considering issuing pardons that may impede criminal investigations.”

Shortly after Schneiderman made his request, state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor who represents a district on Long Island, announced he would introduce a bill seeking to accomplish the attorney general’s goal.”

[…]

Presidents can pardon people only for federal crimes. Trump did so last week, pardoning Scooter Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, for obstructing justice, perjury and lying to the FBI.

But pardons, as a rule, do not prevent people from prosecution or punishment for violating state criminal laws.

However, Schneiderman, in a letter to Cuomo and legislative leaders, said that “a strategically-timed pardon [from Trump] could prevent individuals who may have violated our State’s laws from standing trial in our courts as well.”

The timing would involve issuing a pardon to someone after they pleaded guilty to a federal crime, or after a jury was sworn in for a criminal case going to trial.

New York law bars someone from being prosecuted in state court if that person has already been prosecuted elsewhere for the same acts. That is known as a protection against so-called double jeopardy.

But Schneiderman said there is a “problem” under Article 40 of the state’s Criminal Procedure Law.

Under that law, he wrote, “jeopardy attaches when a defendant pleads guilty or, if the defendant proceeds to a jury trial, the moment the jury is sworn.”

“If any of those steps occur in a federal prosecution, then a subsequent prosecution for state crimes ‘based on the same act or criminal transaction’ cannot proceed, unless an exception applies,” Schneiderman wrote.

Read the full story.

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About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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