I previously wrote about what I viewed 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.