Revealed: new prosecutorial strategy guarantees jail time for Donald Trump Jr. and others despite the possibility of a presidential pardon.
Editor’s Note: Samuel Warde is the editor-in-chief of Liberals Unite (recently re-branded as The Art of Living) as well as a contributor to Mindy Fischer, Writer. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. You can view a list of his articles here.
Americans have been on pins and needles regarding whether or not prison awaits key members of the Trump crime organization such as Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. At the center of concern are questions regarding the likelihood of a presidential pardon and how that might impact the Constitution’s bar against double-jeopardy. However state-level prosecutors, working along with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other federal prosecutors, have devised a fool-proof workaround.
State-Level Prosecutions Loom on the Horizon for Trump Family Members, Campaign Staff, and Members of the Trump Organization
Noting that: “That should worry the president and the people in his circle,” The Washington Post added that: “Early in his investigation, Mueller was reportedly sharing information he had gathered with the then-attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman.”
Moreover, current New York Attorney General-elect Letitia James declared war on Trump during her first post-election interview late last year. NBC News reported that “James says she plans to launch sweeping investigations into President Donald Trump, his family and ‘anyone’ in his circle who may have violated the law once she settles into her new job next month.”
“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” James added.
More recently, the New York Attorney General sued the Trump Foundation, alleging a “shocking pattern of illegality” in its use and accounting of charitable funds (the foundation was shut down in December), and the New Jersey attorney general issued a subpoena to Trump’s campaign for the financial records of his inaugural fund. Although these are both civil actions, they could reveal violations of state criminal laws concerning tax and financial fraud by members of the Trump campaign, the Trump family, and the Trump Organization.
New York’s Move on Paul Manafort Serves as a Preview of Coming Attractions for Don Jr.
Bloomberg reported on Friday that the Manhatten District Attorney’s Office is prepared to initiate charges against Paul Manafort if Trump attempts to pardon him.
New York state prosecutors have put together a criminal case against Paul Manafort that they could file quickly if the former chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign receives a presidential pardon.
New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is ready to file an array of tax and other charges against Manafort, according to two people familiar with the matter, something seen as an insurance policy should the president exercise his power to free the former aide. Skirting laws that protect defendants from being charged twice for the same offense has been one of Vance’s challenges.
The same strategy applies to members of the Trump family, campaign, and Trump organization as they are all headquartered in New York State.
Double Jeopardy? No Problem!
There has been considerable debate regarding double-jeopardy in the event Trump attempts to pardon himself, family members, or others. The U.S. Supreme is deciding a case later this year (Gamble v. United States) that could make it impossible for states to prosecute individuals for crimes covered by a presidential pardon.
Slate reported in October 2018,
Gamble v. United States has fueled speculation that Republicans are pushing for a favorable outcome in order to free Trump to issue pardons of his associates without fear that they will face consequences from state prosecutors. While the case on the question of double jeopardy is an important one, there is no reason to worry that Gamble will jeopardize the Mueller probe… In reality, though, the Mueller investigation seems to have made itself safe on that front.
Were Gamble to swing in favor of double jeopardy protections, Mueller has already left the door open for state charges by not charging defendants with every possible crime. As Slate reported, when Manafort pleaded guilty last year, “When Manafort pleaded guilty last year “Mueller seemed to leave the door open on many charges by state prosecutors.”
Bloomberg came to the same conclusion on Friday, reporting that New York State prosecutors plan to charge Manafort with state crimes containing different elements than the federal charges against him – therefore invalidating any claim to double jeopardy protections in the event of a pardon.
The Washington Post elaborated, reporting that:
Of course, double-jeopardy issues only arise for state and federal crimes arising out the same set of facts — so states are always free to prosecute crimes that do not necessarily overlap with federal cases. Bloomberg News reported Friday morning that New York prosecutors have put together a case they could file against Manafort if Trump pardons him in a way that would avoid the double-jeopardy problems. The New York investigation predates the Mueller probe and includes consideration of tax evasion and improper accounting records, the Bloomberg report says.