A judge dismissed New York’s mortgage-fraud case against former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, undermining the state’s effort to ensure that the jailed political adviser doesn’t go free if he’s eventually pardoned for his federal crimes.
Bloomberg reports that State Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley on Wednesday granted Manafort’s request to dismiss the charges because the state indictment overlaps with cases previously brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Manafort lawyers argued that New York’s broad double-jeopardy law protects defendants from multiple prosecutions for the same conduct, even if they were charged in other jurisdictions or by different government authorities. They’ve suggested the New York case was politically motivated.
“This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically motivated actions.”
But the resistance refuses to give up the fight…
“We will appeal today’s decision and will continue working to ensure that Mr. Manafort is held accountable for the criminal conduct against the people of New York,” Danny Frost, a spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., said in a statement.
Jonathan Turley viewed this as a dangerous trend among New York Democratic politicians pledging to charge former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort under state law to negate any benefit from a federal pardon by President Donald Trump.
Democrats rallied supporters to the dubious cause of watering down the state protections against double jeopardy. It was the ultimate example of the mania surrounding Trump where citizens would take an axe to their own constitutional protections to get at Trump and his associates.
The highly dubious effort was led by New York state attorney general Letitia James and, thankfully, it has failed. The New York courts are not nearly as dismissive of individual rights.
The state charges were thrown out today on the basis of double jeopardy. The question is now whether this will be a prelude to a presidential pardon.
Manafort is serving until Christmas day 2024. However, his recent medical emergency (combined with this ruling) could lay the foundation for a pardon or commutation to secure his early release.
Manafort, 70, faced state charges of residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records under state law — charges that overlapped with his federal prosecution.
I have been highly critical of Manafort and I still have little sympathy for him. I do not view him as a worthy subject of a pardon.
However, I am relieved that the courts showed more judgment and respect for individual rights than James and others who wanted to lower protections to score political points in prosecuting a Trump associate.