New York Attorney General Letitia James told “The View” on Tuesday that President Donald Trump won’t be able to “avoid justice” after he leaves office, even if he leverages presidential pardoning power.
James, who has probed Trump businesses in 68 lawsuits since she took office two years ago, clarified that presidential pardoning power can protect against federal crimes but won’t protect Trump from state crimes.
Therefore, while legal precedent indicates that Trump can’t pardon himself, the president would remain vulnerable to James’ current civil investigation into his business dealings, even if Trump stepped down and allowed Vice President Mike Pence to pardon him.
“He can preemptively pardon individuals, and the vast majority of legal scholars have indicated that he cannot pardon himself,” James said during an appearance on the show. “What he could do is step down and allow the vice president — Vice President Pence — to pardon him.”
James said she believes Trump will step down in order to be pardoned, but added, “It’s important to understand that he’s pardoned from federal crimes, but he’s not pardoned from state crimes.”
James explained that a bill she advocated for last year in the state, a piece of legislation that has since become law, closed a pardon loophole in New York that could have allowed Trump to evade justice in the state.
“President Trump cannot avoid justice in the great state of New York,” James said.
James is currently investigating the Trump Organization — the umbrella company for his businesses — over allegations Trump inflated the value of his assets for bank loans and improperly manipulated financial statements to avoid and evade taxes.
The probe emerged from testimony given last year by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, in which he indicated under oath that the president had inflated his assets and financial statements.
Although the investigation is civil in nature, James said that could change if the office uncovers evidence of criminal activity. She predicted Trump will grant pre-emptive pardons to his close associates and children.
Trump also is under investigation by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance over “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”