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Even if Manafort Is Pardoned, New York Has a Plan

State prosecutors may bring their own charges
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2019 3:48 PM CST
Paul Manafort is scheduled for sentencing in March.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(Newser) – Even if Paul Manafort receives a presidential pardon for his federal crimes, he could face state charges that would send him to prison. Manhattan prosecutors have assembled a criminal case against Manafort, President Trump's onetime campaign manager, the New York Times reports. Presidents have no pardon power in state cases. Trump has not said he plans a pardon, but he has called the power broad. And he's defended Manafort, who is to be sentenced in March on charges brought as part of the Russia investigation. Manafort could get 25 years for tax and bank fraud, plus time for conspiracy counts. He turns 70 in April.

The state prosecution could hit a wall—New York's double jeopardy law, which offers more protection than the US Constitution, Bloomberg reports. Prompted by this case, legislators were asked last year to allow local prosecutions in the event of a presidential pardon, but the law still stands. Manhattan prosecutors have found areas in which they think Manafort can be charged without running into the double jeopardy protections. They've faced this issue in the past in other cases. "My suggestion is to change the double jeopardy statute in New York to permit prosecutions with this kind of conduct in mind," says one former prosecutor. "As interpreted, the statute is too broad." The Times says New York prosecutors plan to seek charges regardless of whether Trump pardons Manafort. (The president has said a pardon is "not off the table.")

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