New York State has just passed a law that would allow the state to pursue criminal charges against people who have received a presidential pardon in what is seen as a direct shot at Donald Trump.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law on Wednesday, potentially paving the way for Trump associates to face state charges in New York, NBC News reported. The report added that a number of former Trump aides or associates have either been charged with state crimes or are under legal scrutiny in New York, where Donald Trump’s company is headquartered.
In a statement on Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo said that the new law will allow the state to seek justice.
“No one is above the law and New York will not turn a blind eye to criminality, no matter who seeks to protect them,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power, and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law.”
Critics have expressed worry that Donald Trump will use his broad pardon powers to exonerate those close to him who are convicted of crimes, including ones that the president himself may have been involved in. Trump has already used presidential pardons on supporters, including former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was held in criminal contempt of court for disobeying a judge’s order that his department stop racially profiling.
Trump came under fire but stood by his decision, even as members of his own party criticized the move. In an interview afterward, Trump said that he decided to announce the pardon as Hurricane Harvey was making landfall in Texas because he thought it would get better ratings.
The state of New York has investigated Trump’s company and allegations that they intentionally lied about assets in order to secure bank loans. The new law clarifies that Trump’s federal pardons will not stop these state investigations from moving forward.
Some of the New York lawmakers who helped pass this week’s legislation have mentioned Trump specifically as their motivation to pass it.
“With the President all but pledging to corruptly abuse his pardon power to allow friends and associates off the hook, it is crucial that we have closed the Double Jeopardy loophole and preserved the rule of law in New York,” said state Senator Todd Kaminsky, a sponsor of the legislation.