The New York State Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday that would close the state’s double jeopardy loophole, thereby preventing President Donald Trump from using his pardoning power to shield himself or his associates from any criminal charges in New York.
Currently, Trump is able to pardon someone for federal crimes committed in New York, and New York would be prevented from filing state charges for those crimes against that individual. As former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman put it: “A defendant pardoned by the President for a serious federal crime could be freed from all accountability under federal and state criminal law, even though the President has no authority under the U.S. Constitution to pardon state crimes.”
Under this new bill, New York prosecutors could pursue charges against someone who’s been pardoned for federal crimes. The bill is not retroactive, so former Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen wouldn’t be affected. However, Trump and his family are currently under a host of investigations into their business dealings.
The New York state Senate approved the bill earlier this month, so all that’s left is the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who already announced his support for the change last year.
“This loophole must be closed to ensure that these politically motivated, self-serving actions are not sanctioned under law,” Cuomo said in a statement in 2018. “New York must have the ability to stand up against the abuse of power.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James applauded the Assembly for passing the bill.
“This legislation is a commonsense, good government measure that will ensure a reasonable check on the presidential pardon power for not only this President, but all future presidents,” she said in a statement.