New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Thursday repeated her office’s call on lawmakers to change state law in order to ensure individuals pardoned by President Donald Trump could still face legal consequences.
Trump announced earlier Thursday that he would pardon conservative troll Dinesh D’Souza, who in 2014 pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.
“President Trump’s latest pardon makes crystal clear his willingness to use his pardon power to thwart the cause of justice, rather than advance it,” Underwood wrote. “By pardoning Dinesh D’Souza, President Trump is undermining the rule of law by pardoning a political supporter who is an unapologetic convicted felon.”
At issue is Article 40 of the state’s Criminal Procedure Law, which, aside from certain exceptions, prevents state prosecution of crimes for which an individual has pleaded guilty or faced jury trial in any other jurisdiction, including federal court. Slate’s Jed Shugerman explained the law in more depth last month.
“First it was Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” Underwood wrote. “Then it was Scooter Libby. Now it’s Dinesh D’Souza. We can’t afford to wait to see who will be next. Lawmakers must act now to close New York’s double jeopardy loophole and ensure that anyone who evades federal justice by virtue of a politically expedient pardon can be held accountable if they violate New York law.”
Eric Schniederman, who resigned as New York attorney general earlier this month after the New Yorker published detailed allegations of abuse by him, called for the same change in state law last month.
“[R]ecent reports indicate that the President may be considering issuing pardons that may impede criminal investigations,” he wrote. “This is disturbing news, not only because it would undermine public confidence in the rule of law, but also because—due to a little-known feature of New York law that appears to be unique in its reach—a strategically-timed pardon could prevent individuals who may have violated our State’s laws from standing trial in our courts as well.”