The ability of American presidents to pardon people in the United States goes back to the foundation of the country. Indeed, the legal basis for the practice is enshrined in the constitution, in Section 2, Clause 1, which says that the President shall “have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
In other words, the President has limitless power to pardon those convicted of federal crimes. But for one left-leaning attorney general in a very left-leaning state, the idea that Donald J. Trump can pardon people is so offensive that he demanded the state to give him powers to undermine it. He’s asking to nullify part of the constitution, or to undo the power of the Presidential Pardon.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked Governor Andrew Cuomo to give him the power to bring charges against people pardoned by President Donald Trump. He also implored the state legislature to grant him such powers.
The New York Attorney General asked that they vote to close a ‘loophole’ in the state’s laws which protects individuals pardoned from being retried in the state of New York for the same crimes.
According to representatives, Andrew Cuomo is reviewing the request.
His press secretary, Dani Lever, said that Cuomo believes that the presidential power to pardon “should not provide a basis for any wrongdoers to escape justice.”
The speaker for the State Assembly, Carl Heastie, said that they will look into closing the loophole, and Democrat State Senator Todd Kaminsky tweeted a plan to close the ‘loophole.’
A law professor at Fordham University, a private Catholic school in the state of New York, suggested that New York would simply be joining more than 20 other states in the country that provide the minimum required protection against double jeopardy.
What Schneiderman, a democrat, is asking for is nothing more than the ability to use state law to harass people with whom he disagrees. New York should be ashamed of the idea that they would offer the very minimum protections against double jeopardy, or trying people twice for the same crime.
It seems quite plain that this is a partisan move, designed to allow him to undermine President Donald Trump’s pardons.
Eric Schneiderman, first elected to the position of New York Attorney General in 2010, never seemed to feel the need to demand the closure of this ‘loophole’ when Barack Obama was pardoning crack dealers (some of whom were caught again after receiving a pardon).
Suddenly, the idea that Donald Trump is pardoning people like Scooter Libby (whose only crime was lying to the FBI about entirely legal conduct) caused Schneiderman to apparently feel the need to prevent wrongdoers from ‘escaping justice.’
It seems likely that Schneiderman is hoping that he can use his powers to harass people President Donald Trump might pardon in the state of New York.
Whatever other courts may say, the idea that a state can try someone after they were tried in federal courts certainly seems like double jeopardy.
The concept of double jeopardy says that, except in very specific instances, an individual cannot be tried for the same crime twice.
However, some states choose to interpret double jeopardy as saying that the same court cannot try someone twice for the same crime. They don’t view it as double jeopardy if the state and the federal government try an individual for the same crime.
But many legal scholars suggest that this would just invite more prosecutorial harassment.
Imagine, a legal system where the accused goes to a federal court, is not convicted of a crime, then has to endure a second trial for the same charges.
It essentially gives prosecutors two attempts to convict a person for a single act.
While that may be in keeping with the letter of the law concerning double jeopardy, it certainly does not seem to be keeping true to the intent.
Perhaps Schneiderman requested this change to law in hopes that, if Cohen is convicted (and pardoned), he will be able to assail President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, or other members of the Trump campaign and cabinet who reside in the state of New York, or who allegedly committed crimes in the state?
It’s almost impossible to see a way in which this decision is not an open and blatant example of political bias.
At this point, there is no one that President Donald Trump has pardoned who is any worse than the individuals that Barack Obama pardoned.
Furthermore, the right to pardon should be respected. State-level politicians and governors should not be able to ignore it at their whims, in order to target people they don’t care for.
But once again, it seems that democrat politicians only respect unilateral executive power when they’re the ones utilizing it.