New York bill: State can prosecute people pardoned by President

Measure awaits governor's signature

By Evan Simko-Bednarski and Sonia Moghe, CNN
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo

ALBANY, N.Y. - New York is one signature away from allowing prosecutors to pursue state charges against presidential associates who have received federal pardons.

The Democratic-controlled state assembly on Tuesday passed a bill 90-52 allowing the state to prosecute people pardoned of federal crimes, provided that they worked for or were related to the president at the time of the pardon.

If signed, it could short-circuit President Donald Trump's ability to shield his associates from prosecution, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was recently sentenced to more than seven years in prison on financial crimes stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the 2016 campaign.

The bill, which passed the state Senate earlier this month, now heads to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Jason Cornwall, a spokesperson for Cuomo, told CNN Tuesday the governor supports the bill.

Cuomo has previously criticized Trump's statements on his pardon power, saying in a statement last August, "President Trump has shown that he is willing if not eager to abuse his executive authority, including pardon power, to protect himself."

The bill is one of two passed by the state Senate earlier this month aimed at Trump. The other would require New York's tax commissioner to hand state tax returns over to Congress upon request made it out of committee on Tuesday. Assembly leadership has told CNN that the bill is expected to come to the floor for a vote on Wednesday.

Trump has broken presidential precedent by refusing to release his federal tax returns, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week told House Democrats that he would not comply with a subpoena for the documents, which would shed light on Trump's personal and business financial interests.

The pardon bill allows for the prosecution at the state level of any individual who was employed by or served in the executive branch, served in a position subject to Senate confirmation, or worked for a presidential campaign or transition team, regardless of whether they had been pardoned or granted clemency by the president under which they served. It would similarly allow prosecution of presidential relatives regardless of pardon.

"This new law will confront any president -- not just this one -- who thinks he or she can get away with washing away illegal behavior," said Democratic Assemblyman Joe Lentol, the bill's primary sponsor. "New York state, when it affects our state, will not tolerate that."

Republicans were loudly opposed to the bill.

In an interview with CNN immediately following the vote, Republican Assemblyman Andy Goodell called the legislation "a real step backwards."

Earlier in the day, New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, also a Republican, criticized the bill.

"The job of the State Legislature is to develop measures that help New Yorkers. This bill does absolutely nothing to achieve that," Kolb said in a statement. "The endless political grandstanding involved in targeting President Trump at a state level is a total waste of time, energy and taxpayer money."

CNN's Jake Tapper reported last month that Trump told then-Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan that he would pardon him, if he were sent to jail for ordering border agents to block asylum seekers from entering the US.

In a New York Post interview last year, Trump said a pardon for Manafort wasn't off the table, though he also said it hadn't been discussed.

CNN's Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report

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