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Prosecutors Could Strip POTUS’ Pardon Power for Paul Manafort

The legal maneuver is likely to peeve the President.

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Paul Manafort was undoubtedly a close friend and ally to Donald Trump for some time, but his current position as a Robert Mueller-led pawn is likely grating to the Commander in Chief.

Manafort stands accused of several crimes – some loosely tied to the 2016 election, some not at all.  Given his close relationship with President Trump, the possibility of Manafort being pardoned when, (or if), his court dates cease has long been the subject of tenacious pontification.

For his part, President Trump has refused to rule out such a maneuver, but has not indicated his inclination either.

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Now, prosecutors from the State of New York are looking to neuter the President’s options in Manafort’s case, by adjudicating it outside of the Presidential Pardon’s jurisdiction.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is preparing state criminal charges against Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, in an effort to ensure he will still face prison time even if the president pardons him for his federal crimes, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

Mr. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced next month for convictions in two federal cases brought by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. He faces up to 25 years in prison for tax and bank fraud and additional time for conspiracy counts in a related case. It could effectively be a life sentence for Mr. Manafort, who turns 70 in April.

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The move was likely designed to curtal the President’s pardon powers specifically.

The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but no such authority in state cases. And while there has been no clear indication that Mr. Trump intends to pardon Mr. Manafort, the president has spoken repeatedly of his pardon power and defended his former campaign chairman on a number of occasions, calling him a “brave man.”

Manafort’s troubles come just days before the Department of Justice expects to receive the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign.

 

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