Tish James Calls for Special Session to Close Double Jeopardy Loophole

Citing Paul Manafort Trial, Calls on Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Flanagan, and Democratic Conference Leader Stewart-Cousins to Act Immediately

NEW YORK -- With the imminent decision in the case of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, today, Attorney General candidate Tish James called on Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Flanagan, and Democratic Conference Leader Stewart-Cousins to immediately convene a special session to pass A/10422, S/08236, legislation that closes a loophole in New York State law that allows the President to pardon individuals for crimes committed in New York.

In a letter to New York State leaders, Tish James cited that Trump’s pardons of Dinesh D’Souza, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Scooter Libby demonstrate a dangerous partisan approach to pardons that undermine the balance of powers intended to maintain our democracy. Without action on this law, Manafort and Trump himself could be protected from conviction despite committing crimes in New York. To guard against the erosion of the rule of law, we must enact this bill into law.

The full text of the letter:

Dear Hon. Cuomo, Flanagan, Heastie, and Stewart-Cousins,

I write to urge the State Legislature to convene immediately to pass pending legislation A/10422, S/08236, that closes a loophole in our state law that allows the President to pardon individuals for crimes committed in New York State. If a crime is committed under New York law, we must have the ability to prosecute that crime.

While I have pushed for the closing of this loophole previously, there is new urgency to pass this legislation. A verdict in the criminal case against Paul Manafort could come as early as today. Given President Trump's use of the Presidential pardon already in a case adjudicated in New York State, and his claim that he can pardon himself as he pleases, we must act now. We cannot afford to let the President think that he and his cronies are above the law.

On June 5, 2018, in the wake of President Trump’s pardon of Dinesh D’Souza,  I called for the passage of legislation to close this loophole in New York’s Double Jeopardy Law. Trump’s pardons of D’Souza, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Scooter Libby demonstrate a dangerous partisan approach to pardons that undermines the balance of powers intended to maintain our democracy. To guard against the erosion of the rule of law, we must enact this bill into law.

While the rule against double jeopardy is a fundamental safeguard against persecution by prosecution, this legislation is narrowly tailored and necessary. New York State, its lawmakers, and its Attorney General, can, and should, stand in the breach as a defense against the intentional dismantling of the checks and balances that protect us from autocracy. Our current Attorney General has urged that this law be passed so she can do her job. If I am elected as Attorney General, I will use the office to prosecute those crimes that fall within my jurisdiction.

I urge you to convene the State Legislature immediately to pass this important pending legislation.

Sincerely,

Tish James
Candidate for Attorney General