New York lawmakers are trying to make it more difficult for President Donald Trump or any future president to skirt state prosecution if accused of any criminal wrongdoing, the New York Post reports.
To do so, lawmakers Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, and Assemblyman Nick Perry, D-Brooklyn, have put forward the “No Citizen is Above the Law” bill.
Currently, a sitting president is immune from arrest or prosecution while in office, according to two Justice Department memos — one issued in 1973 and another in 2000. The memos interpret the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has never rendered a decision on the topic.
During the time frame the president is serving, the statute of limitations could expire, which would prevent a prosecutor from bringing a criminal case forward once a president leaves office.
To stop that from happening, the bill will “toll” or freeze or stop the clock on the limitations period until the president leaves office.
The proposal comes as Trump’s business dealings are being investigated by the offices of New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. Vance is also trying to gain access to Trump’s tax returns.
“Donald Trump is trying to run out the clock on all these investigations. We want to make sure he doesn’t succeed in escaping accountability because the clock on the statute of limitations has run out,” Gianaris said, noting that if the bill becomes law it will apply to all future presidents.
If enacted, the law would apply to potential state, not federal, criminal cases against a president.
“Clearly the privileges of the Office of president were not intended to make the holder of the office above the law, and was not intended to empower a president with the ability to thwart and sabotage an active, legitimate investigation as New York prosecutors have accused the president of doing,” Perry said. “Tolling the statute of limitations for the full period of a president’s tenure will ensure that if the president did participate in any of the numerous criminal activities alleged by his former counsel to have occurred, he like every other New York citizen will be held to account for all crimes against the people and state of New York.”
Perry was referencing accusations made against Trump by his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the newspaper reports.
A Trump campaign official and lawyer in New York Ed Cox told the New York Post that if the law is passed it would likely be struck down as unconstitutional.
“It is aimed at one person — Donald Trump. You can’t do that,” said Cox, the Trump campaign’s New York co-fundraising chairman and former head of the state Republican Party. “They don’t like Donald Trump and what he stands for. It’s all political. He’s been too good a conservative.”
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