if at first you don't convict
February 22, 2019

President Trump may be able to pardon his ex-campaign chair for federal crimes. But there's nothing he can do in New York state.

That legal truth is the basis of a plan New York prosecutors have cooked up to ensure Paul Manafort stays in prison, Bloomberg reported Friday. New York's district attorney started investigating Manafort even before Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued charges against the political operative, and is reportedly drafting a slew of criminal charges that don't intersect with the federal government's allegations.

Manafort, Trump's 2016 campaign chair, was convicted last year on financial crimes and has yet to be sentenced, though he's potentially facing life in prison. As recently as November, Trump said he "wouldn't take" the possibility of pardoning Manafort "off the table." But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has reportedly wanted to "ensure" Manafort isn't let off the hook, sources tell The New York Times. So he's been investigating Manafort's bank loans since 2017, and is reportedly planning to levvy bank fraud charges regardless of a pardon.

A big challenge for Vance has been "skirting laws that protect defendants from being charged twice for the same offense," Bloomberg writes. That concern was reflected when former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked Albany to tamper its double jeopardy protections, but that didn't happen, meaning Manafort's team will likely allege he's being double charged. Still, a state grand jury has already started reviewing the case and will reportedly vote on charges within the next few weeks, the Times reports, writing that Vance's team has "expressed confidence that they would prevail."

Read more about the reported backup plan at Bloomberg. Kathryn Krawczyk

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