05.10.2022

New York lawmakers want to make it easier to prosecute ex-presidents for crimes they commit in office

A bill by New York lawmakers aims to make it easier to prosecute former presidents after they leave office if they are accused of criminal activity.

New York senator Michael Gianaris and assemblyman Nick Perry, who proposed the bill, said it was aimed at making sure presidents could be held to account “like every other New York citizen”, according to the New York Post.

“Clearly the privileges of the Office of president were not intended to make the holder of the office above the law, and was not intended to empower a president with the ability to thwart and sabotage an active, legitimate investigation as New York prosecutors have accused the president of doing,” Mr Perry said.

The US Justice Department currently has a decades-old policy that a president cannot be arrested or prosecuted while in office. The new bill would honor that policy, but would pause the statute of limitations until a president leaves office, meaning that a criminal case could still proceed even if the limitations period ended during a president’s term.

It would apply to all future presidents, regardless of their party affiliation, and would pertain to potential state criminal cases against a president.

Mr Perry added that pausing the statute of limitations for the full period of a president’s tenure “will ensure that if the president did participate in any of the numerous criminal activities alleged by his former counsel to have occurred, he like every other New York citizen will be held to account for all crimes against the people and state of New York.”

The proposed measure comes as Mr Trump’s business dealings are being investigated by the offices of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Mr Vance is also trying to gain access to Mr Trump’s tax returns.

Trump campaign official Ed Cox told the New York Post that if the law is passed, it would likely be struck down as unconstitutional.

“It is aimed at one person — Donald Trump. You can’t do that,” Mr Cox said. “They don’t like Donald Trump and what he stands for. It’s all political. He’s been too good a conservative.”

Still, the bill stands a chance at passing, considering Democrats control a majority in both houses of New York’s state legislature.

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