May 21, 2019

NY legislature passes bill to soften Trump's pardon power

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

New York's Democratically controlled state assembly passed a measure on Tuesday permitting prosecutors to pursue state charges against any individual who receives a presidential pardon for a federal conviction, targeting President Trump's pardon power, NBC News reports.

Context: State law does not currently allow a person to be tried for the same crime that the federal government has already prosecuted. The bill would establish a limited exception within New York's double jeopardy law, allowing state prosecutors to open or proceed with investigations into any pardoned person who, while in the state of New York, served in a president's administration, worked on a campaign or transition into the White House, or was employed by a nonprofit or business controlled by the president, per NBC.

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James — who is in the throes of investigating Trump and various members of his family — backed the bill, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is anticipated to sign it.

Why it matters: Laws have long prevented defendants from being charged twice for the same crime at the state and federal level. As an example of the complications that can emerge, Trump refused to rule out a presidential pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort as he faced trial in the Mueller investigation.

What they're saying:

  • The bill "will confront any president, not just this one," who believes they "can wash away illegal behavior," Joseph Lentol, the Democratic assemblyman sponsoring the legislation, said, per NBC.
  • "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," state Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.