New York seeks authority to prosecute despite presidential pardons

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) on Wednesday asked state lawmakers to amend the law so that prosecutors can charge individuals who have benefitted from a presidential pardon.

New York’s existing law states that if an individual pleads guilty or is convicted of a federal crime and then is pardoned by the president, prosecutors cannot bring charges for violating state laws because of a double-jeopardy rule that stipulates a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice.

Schneiderman wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and leaders of the state legislature to argued that as a result of the current policy, a “strategically-timed pardon” could protect individuals who have violated New York state laws. 


As a result, Schneiderman is asking that state lawmakers change the New York statute so that double-jeopardy protections do not apply to cases involving presidential pardons.

“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 — even if that person was never tried or convicted in federal court, and never served a single day in federal prison,” Schneiderman wrote.

In explaining the need for the change, Schneiderman cited recent reports that President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE may be considering pardons that could impede criminal investigations. The Supreme Court has ruled the president cannot pardon an individual for state crimes.

The request came following last week's FBI raids on Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney. Trump has denounced the action, taken in conjunction with the local U.S. attorney's office after a referral from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE, as a violation of attorney–client privilege. 

The Washington Post reported after the raid that Cohen is under criminal investigation for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

The White House has denied that Trump is considering pardons "at this time" for any of his former associates caught up in Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Trump last week pardoned I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted for lying to the FBI regarding the leak of the identity of an CIA agent.

In light of that pardon, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump backs Stefanik to replace Cheney Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks MORE (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would give Congress oversight of any pardon that Trump grants to a subject of the Russia investigation or to a member of his family. 

"There are unsettling indications that President Trump could use the expansive pardon power granted by the Constitution as an instrument to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation and other investigations into his business, family or his associates," Schiff wrote in a statement introducing the bill.