Trump’s fate has never rested solely on the promise of Republican support in terms of the impeachment process. But in spite of that, New York Attorney General Letitia James holds a laser focus on holding corrupt individuals and institutions accountable.
A Republican backed attempt to declare the second Trump impeachment as unconstitutional suggests Democrats might not meet the threshold for conviction. All but five Republican senators supported the motion introduced by Republican Senator Rand Paul. To successfully convict Trump, 17 republicans would need to vote in favor of conviction.
Beginning the week of Feb. 8, the impending impeachment trial means that both sides of the aisle could be tasked with producing witnesses, and weighs the possibility that overwhelming evidence and public pressure could sway Republican senators to vote a different way.
But instead of banking on the possibility that Senate Republicans who support Trump will gain a conscience, James continues to push forward in her own investigation. From the NYPD, to the NRA, to the former president, James maintains that no one is above the law.
In a statement shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, James suggested the existence of instances involving the issuance of pardons which would open Trump up to prosecution. Noting the potential presence of “corrupt circumstances,” James reiterated that state and local investigations would not be affected. She is also investigating whether the Trump organization lied about the value of their assets.
Even if Trump secretly pardoned himself, as speculated by some including Michael Cohen, it doesn’t protect him from James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, a respected constitutional law scholar, commented that presidential pardons do not apply to state law. In its infinite wisdom, the New York legislature passed a law making it clear that presidential pardons do not apply to offenses committed in the state.
Vance heads a criminal investigation parallel to James’ civil investigation. If the right evidence presents itself, Trump would have to defend himself from state charges and and civil penalties. Vance’s investigation stems from possible criminal activities of the Trump Organization including bank, tax, and insurance related fraud.
Vance previously came under fire for failing to bring fraud charges against Donald Trump, Jr. and his sister Ivanka after a meeting with the former president’s personal lawyer in 2012.
James remains focused on whether Trump was involved in criminal activity.
“If in fact we uncover any criminal conduct, that will change the posture of our investigation,” she said in an interview with NY1. “So there is a possibility that there might be a criminal probe similar to that which is currently being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney.”
Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.
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