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New York Governor Unlikely to Pardon Trump, Despite Bipartisan Appeal

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If President Trump won a second term, he could not pardon himself for the convictions he received in New York.

By: Bill Pan

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is facing bipartisan calls to pardon former President Donald Trump for his recent felony convictions, a scenario she has signaled is unlikely to happen.

President Trump became the first U.S. president to be convicted of a crime after a 12-person New York jury returned a guilty verdict in a highly controversial trial stemming from a payment made to an adult film actress before the 2016 election. He pleaded not guilty and dismissed the roughly seven-week proceeding as a “rigged” and “very unfair” scheme to undermine his reelection campaign.

If President Trump won a second term, he could pardon himself if convicted in his two federal cases, but not for the convictions he received in New York.

The U.S. Constitution limits the presidential pardon authority to “offenses against the United States,” meaning that the president may only pardon federal offenses and offenses adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in the name of the United States. That leaves Ms. Hochul as the sole person with the power to pardon the convictions and subsequent sentences.

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), denouncing the verdict as “politically motivated,” said the Democrat governor should “immediately announce her intention” to pardon the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and “preemptively commute any sentence.”

“To not do so is to allow America to become a banana republic,” the Republican congressman wrote in a post on X on Thursday.

“President Trump’s fate, and the 2024 presidential election, should be decided by voters, not overzealous politically motivated prosecutors and an imbalanced jury.”

Also among those urging Ms. Hochul to pardon the former president’s historic felony conviction is Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who ran a long-shot bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination this year before endorsing President Joe Biden.

“Donald Trump is a serial liar, cheater, and philanderer, a six-time declarer of corporate bankruptcy, an instigator of insurrection, and a convicted felon who thrives on portraying himself as a victim,” Mr. Phillips wrote on Friday on X, before suggesting that Ms. Hochul should pardon him anyway, “for the good of the country.”

In a follow-up post on Saturday, Mr. Phillips expressed worries that the outrage over the verdict is being turned into a fundraising boon.

“You think pardoning is stupid? Making him a martyr over a payment to a porn star is stupid,” he wrote. “It’s energizing his base, generating record sums of campaign cash, and will likely result in an electoral boost.”

“Today’s verdict reaffirms that no one is above the law,” Ms. Hochul’s office said in a statement following the guilty verdict.

“In preparation for a verdict in this trial, I directed my Administration to closely coordinate with local and federal law enforcement and we continue to monitor the situation,” it continued. “We are committed to protecting the safety of all New Yorkers and the integrity of our judicial system.”

The conviction did appear to serve as a booster to the Trump campaign, which announced Friday that it had raised nearly $53 million.

“THAT’S MORE THAN $2 MILLION PER HOUR!” the Trump campaign said.


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