Politics & Policy

Cuomo Signs Measure Allowing New York Prosecutors to Bypass Presidential Pardons

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in New York, September 14, 2018. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a measure Wednesday freeing New York from its obligation to observe presidential pardons when it comes to prosecuting crimes committed in the state.

The measure scraps the “double-jeopardy loophole” that bars states from prosecuting individuals after the federal government has already prosecuted them for the same crimes. It allows New York state prosecutors to investigate individuals who worked in a presidential administration or for the president’s campaign, nonprofits, or businesses, even if they were pardoned by the president.

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

The law was seen as preempting a potential presidential pardon of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is currently serving over seven years in federal prison on bank-fraud, tax-evasion, and conspiracy charges and still faces state mortgage-fraud charges in New York. Several other former Trump associates are likewise facing charges in New York, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office is also currently probing the Trump Organization’s finances.

The state legislature passed the measure in May, and it will go into effect immediately.

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