January 30, 2023

Trump’s pardon power just took a massive legal blow that puts his children at risk

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Trump associates just lost their lifeline.


Any person associated with the many areas in which the president and his team faces legal liability after investigations uncover activities outside the scope of the law — a wide range of potential bear traps that include the Trump campaign, his fundraising, his transition, his inaugural, his charity, and, of course, his many business ventures — now has real cause to worry that their relationship with the president will not be able to save their skins through a deftly proffered pardon.

The reason? The passage today of a bill in the New York State Assembly that would allow state prosecutors, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, to indict anyone who has been given a pardon for their federal crimes by President Trump.

The new bill eliminates a loophole in state law that categorized the use of the same evidence against someone pardoned for a federal crime as double jeopardy and prevented the prosecution of that crime on the state level in New York.

The bill passed with an overwhelming majority in the Democratically-controlled Assembly after having passed the state Senate earlier this week, according to The New York Law Journal.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already signaled that he will sign the bill into law shortly.

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“Since there’s inaction in Washington to stop any of this power of the pardon being abused, or in any other way stopping the president from doing whatever he wants, it’s kind of ironic that the state has to step in and enforce the state’s rights to change the law so that we can check the power of the president,” Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said in a statement after the bill’s passage.

While fans of fighting government corruption rejoiced over the bill’s victory, its passage is frightening news for the Trump family and the many indicted or already convicted associates in the president’s circle, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort who will likely face New York state charges if he’s released from his current sentence for fraud and tax evasion due to Trump’s largesse.

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Trump advisor Roger Stone’s prospects are now looking decidedly dicier depending on the outcome of his trial. It is Trump’s own children, however, who face the most risk from the passage of the New York statute since so much of the Trump Organization’s business is conducted in the state.

Since the president does not have the power to pardon anyone for crimes at the state level, Trump will be powerless to intervene if New York Attorney General Letitia James decides to bring charges against Don Jr., Ivanka, or Eric for any roles they may have had  in the Trump charitable foundation fraud, tax evasion, or any of the other active investigations against the family business.

New York State may have finally found the kryptonite that can finally sap President Trump’s greatest power, his pardon granting abilities, and ensure that one way or another the Trump criminal enterprise will face justice.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Dan M. Clark at The New York Law Journal.  

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and 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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