NY Attorney General just revealed brilliant plan to stop Trump from pardoning pals in Mueller probe

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With President Trump not so subtly playing the pardon card as he publicly signals all his indicted and soon-to-be-indicted cohorts that they have nothing to worry about as long as they keep their mouths shut and don’t turn state’s witness, Americans worried about the proper administration of justice have always been able to take solace in the fact that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly been keeping the Attorney General of New York State in the loop on his investigations.

The theory goes that if Mueller wins convictions against any of the Trump-connected players in the long sordid saga, and then Trump turns around and pardons them, their cases can be brought back to state court where presidential pardons have no power.

Now, however, attention has been focused on a potential problem with that strategy, according to articles on The Hill and PoliticusUSA.

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Acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood raised the issue today of the double jeopardy loophole, which could mean that New York may not be able to prosecute on the state level anyone pardoned by the president, and urged New York State lawmakers to close the loophole as soon as possible.

Underwood was reacting to the pardon that Trump issued to right-wing campaign contribution law violator Dinesh D’Souza when she issued the following statement today:

“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 began.

“By pardoning Dinesh D’Souza, President Trump is undermining the rule of law by pardoning a political supporter who is an unapologetic convicted felon. First, it was Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Then it was Scooter Libby. Now it’s Dinesh D’Souza,” she continued.

“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.”

Underwood amplified a request made in April by her predecessor former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman before he stepped down due to accusations of sexual misconduct towards women.

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While states do have the right to prosecute crimes against laws within their jurisdiction, New York, along with some other states, has passed laws preventing double jeopardy prosecutions of cases tried at the federal level… with some exceptions.

Law professor and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa explained the details of the situation in a thread on Twitter.

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All of this is still conjecture at this point of course since Trump has yet to issue pardons to anyone involved in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry. However, Trump’s willingness to issue pardons that undermine rather than reinforce the rule of law at his whim does make action by the New York State Legislature to close this loophole imperative as Acting Attorney General Underwood suggests.

Asha Rangappa does offer one ray of hope in case the legislature does not act in time.

Given that Mueller is a very strategic player, it would be worth watching exactly what charges are and are not brought against the people he indicts. The omission of certain charges could be deliberate and potentially set up a series of back up charges at the state level.

Stay tuned to see how it all plays out.

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Vinnie Longobardo

Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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