New York passes law to thwart presidential pardon power

The new Attorney General of New York State, aligned with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic majority in the state government, have passed a law allowing the prosecution of persons granted presidential pardons. As even NBC News was honest enough to admit, this was a measure cooked up specifically to “Resist” President Trump and blunt his ability to grant pardons to people associated with him. Of course, the devil is in the details as always.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a measure Wednesday that would allow the state to pursue charges against people who have received a presidential pardon — a law seen as a direct shot at President Donald Trump.

Multiple ex-Trump aides or associates are imprisoned or facing legal scrutiny in New York…

The newly signed law creates a narrow exception in the state’s double jeopardy law, which prohibits the prosecution of a person who’s been tried for the same crime by the federal government. The change takes effect immediately.

This was all the brainchild of the Empire State’s new Attorney General, Letitia James. She ran for office on a pledge not to pursue wrongdoing in her state and convict the guilty, but to thwart the President at every turn possible. And that’s what she’s focused most of her attention on. Investigations have been launched into various Trump properties and businesses despite no assertions of an actual crime having been committed. Most of her energy is spent on fishing expeditions and the Governor has gladly enabled these efforts.

This new law supposedly allows prosecutors to “pursue investigations into any pardoned individual who served in a president’s administration, worked directly or indirectly to advance a presidential campaign or transition, or worked at a nonprofit or business controlled by a president.”

To call the law “narrowly tailored” is a severe understatement. The only thing missing was a codicil stating that it only applied if the President’s last name rhymed with bump. What’s not clear is if this law will be struck down during the inevitable challenge if they try to invoke it against anyone Trump issues a pardon to. It’s conceivable that it could hold up under what’s known as the separate sovereigns doctrine.

The arguments being made in favor of the law are laughable. The Attorney General argued that the double jeopardy clause exists “to prevent someone from being charged twice for the same crime, not to allow them to evade justice altogether.” But whether you like the idea of presidents being able to grant pardons or not, that’s what the process allows. The President inserts him or herself into the judicial process and changes the outcome. Her statement is nonsensical.

But let’s say that the law stands. The reality is that it might come back to bite them in the end. Keep in mind that New York City produces a lot of powerful people who wind up being involved in the administrations of presidents of both parties. And the day will come when one of them needs a pardon from a Democratic president. Let’s see how fast they scramble to revoke the law when that happens.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023