New York legislators passed a bill that would allow state prosecutors, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, to prosecute those who’ve been pardoned of federal crimes by President Trump, reports the New York Law Journal. That’s not allowed in the state because of what Democrats who back the measure have called the “double jeopardy loophole,” a gap in state law that prevents state prosecutors from using the same set of facts to bring charges against a federally pardoned person. The vote on the bill came down along party lines, with Democrats largely in favor of the legislation and Republicans in opposition.
James sat in the Assembly chamber as lawmakers approved the measure. “[The bill] ensures that the state of New York will retain its ability to seek justice in the event of abuse of the presidential pardon power,” James said. “If a crime is committed under New York law, we must have the ability to prosecute that crime. We must protect our sovereignty.” Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who sponsored the bill, said it is another way New York is moving to provide an extra layer of oversight over the federal government. “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,” he said. The measure will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who backs it.