New York introduces legislation to prosecute despite presidential pardons

New York introduces legislation to prosecute despite presidential pardons
© Getty Images

New York lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow prosecutors to bring state charges against individuals who have received a presidential pardon.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D) and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D) introduced legislation on Friday after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requested state law be amended to address what he called a loophole that prevents an individual who has been pardoned by the president from being charged with state crimes.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

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 later bring charges for violating state laws because of a double-jeopardy rule that stipulates a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice.

The Supreme Court has ruled the president cannot pardon an individual for state crimes.

In explaining the need for the change, Schneiderman cited recent reports that President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE may be considering pardons that could impede criminal investigations.

The White House has denied that Trump is considering pardons "at this time" for any of his former associates caught up in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

The New York legislation may have good chances. Democrats hold a healthy majority in the state Assembly. In the state Senate, one Democrat caucuses with Republicans, giving the GOP a one-seat majority.