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Cuomo Signs Bill Designed to Allow State to Bring Criminal Charges If Trump Pardons Officials

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Cuomo Signs Bill Designed to Allow State to Bring Criminal Charges If Trump Pardons Officials

2019-10-17 12:35:55

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Andrew Cuomo (Image source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Patrick Cashin)

As the House is concentrating on the Ukraine scandal for bringing impeachment charges against Donald Trump, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not forgotten the officials and aides from Trump's administration who were previously accused and/or convicted and sentenced of wrongdoing. He wants to make sure if Donald Trump pardons them they can't go unpunished. 

The governor signed a bill Wednesday that will allow the state to pursue charges against anyone who receives a presidential pardon.

Through special counsel Robert Mueller, there were many who faced jail or who are currently serving time in prison or awaiting a trial or sentencing. With his businesses and campaign both being based in New York, many of the individuals from the Mueller investigation are also facing state charges. Trump himself is also facing federal, state, and congressional charges.  

The new law that Cuomo signed provides an exception to New York's double jeopardy law. Normally a person is not allowed to face persecution for the same crime the federal government brought charges against them for. Going into effect immediately, these individuals will now be open to state charges as well.

"No one is above the law, and New York will not turn a blind eye to criminality, no matter who seeks to protect them," said Cuomo in a statement. 

"The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law."

State Attorney General Letitia James introduced the measure and has been investigating Trump's finances, as well as those of his businesses. This was initiated after Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, lied about his assets on financial statements to obtain bank loans. 

She stated the law was necessary, as double jeopardy "exists to prevent someone from being charged twice for the same crime, not to allow them to evade justice altogether."

"We have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who commit crimes under New York state law are held accountable for those crimes," she said in a statement on Tuesday. 

"This critical new law closes a gaping loophole that could have allowed any president to abuse the presidential pardon power by unfairly granting a pardon to a family member or close associate and possibly allow that individual to evade justice altogether," she continued.

"No one is above the law, and this commonsense measure will provide a reasonable and necessary check on presidential power today and for all presidents to come."  

Trump has referred to her work against him as "presidential harassment."

"With the president all but pledging to corruptly abuse his pardon power to allow friends and associates off the hook, it is crucial that we have closed the double jeopardy loophole and preserved the rule of law in New York," added state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, in a statement.

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