New York lawmakers pass bill aiming to weaken Trump's pardon power
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New York lawmakers pass bill aiming to weaken Trump's pardon power

In a 90-52 vote on Tuesday, New York's state Assembly passed the bill that would allow prosecutors to pursue state charges against certain individuals despite having received a presidential pardon. According to New York law, the state is prohibited from prosecuting a person who has already been tried for the same crime by the federal government. However, the new bill, which creates a narrow exception in the state's double-jeopardy law, would make it easier for prosecutors, under certain circumstances, to pursue a case against someone who has received a presidential pardon for the federal conviction. Now, state prosecutors would be able to open or advance investigations into any pardoned individual who worked in a president's administration, or helped directly or indirectly advance their campaign or transition, or served at a non-profit or business controlled by the president and whose alleged criminal activity occurred in the state of New York. The bill would also allow for investigations to be launched or continued into any person who was pardoned for the president's benefit. The measure is significant now as Trump’s business and campaign are both headquartered in New York. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating Trump and his family members, backed the bill, so did Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has indicated he would sign it. Prosecutors and lawmakers, who support the bill, argued the measure is essential to ensure that pardons do not derail investigations at the state level into the president, his associates and his business. Soon after the bill's passage, James tweeted that double jeopardy "exists to prevent someone from being charged twice for the same crime, not to allow them to evade justice altogether." "The rule of law is a core pillar of our nation's democracy and my primary role is to uphold it and ensure that no one is above it.” James is currently conducting multiple Trump-related investigations, including but not limited to the probe into the Trump Foundation that resulted in the dissolution of the president's charity. "We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well," James told NBC News in a December interview. "With the President all but pledging to corruptly abuse his pardon power to allow friends and associates off the hook, it is crucial for us to close the double jeopardy loophole and preserve the rule of law in New York," said Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, the state senator who sponsored the bill and former federal prosecutor.

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