A court of appeals supported a lower court ruling that “double jeopardy” protected Paul Manafort from prosecution in New York state after his pardon by former President Donald Trump.
Democrat New York District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. was behind the attempt to ensure former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman would face more than a dozen state felony charges, even if the 45th President pardoned him on a federal level. But the court of appeals decided not to review rulings by lower courts, effectively releasing Manafort from further prosecution.
Manafort had already been convicted of financial fraud in Pennsylvania in 2018 and was serving his seven and a half year sentence before he was released to confinement in his northern Virginia home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Historically, double jeopardy has not protected a defendant from separate federal and state prosecutions, as the two are considered separate entities. In October 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a specific measure to ensure presidential pardons would not allow individuals to evade prosecution in the state.
It was too late, however, to apply to the Manafort case. That same month, New York’s state court of appeals ruled that further prosecution of Manafort in the state violated its “double jeopardy” law. In December, Trump signed a full pardon for Manafort. Now, with the federal court of appeals’ decision, this legal battle is likely over.
A spokesperson for the office of Cyrus R. Vance Jr. declined to comment. One of Manafort’s lawyers announced their satisfaction with the ruling, and confirmed “Mr. Manafort is similarly pleased with the result.”