The Democrat-controlled New York Legislature has passed two bills that are directed at President Donald Trump. The first would allow prosecutors to pursue criminal charges under New York state law against certain persons who receive a federal presidential pardon, and the second would allow the release of Trump’s New York state tax returns.
The pardon bill passed 90-52 in the New York state assembly on Tuesday, and would affect recipients of presidential pardons who are related to the president or who worked for him. The bill previously passed the state senate.
CNN characterized the bill as having the potential to “short-circuit President Donald Trump’s ability to shield his associates from prosecution, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was recently sentenced to more than seven years in prison on financial crimes stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign.”
The tax returns bill “would allow the leaders of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation to get access to any New York state tax returns filed by elected officials and top appointed officials,” according to the AP. The language of the bill covers both personal and business tax returns filed in New York.
Congressional Democrats are seeking the past six years of Trump’s federal income tax returns, but there is currently a standoff with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refusing to release the returns in response to the congressional subpoena. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) has threatened to go to court to force compliance with the subpoena.
This New York bill offers a potential side route to Trump’s tax information. Because Trump’s home is in New York and most of his business enterprises are headquartered there, his state tax returns likely contain much of the information contained in his federal tax returns. However, if this bill becomes law and Trump’s New York tax returns were released under it, they would still remain confidential, to be provided to the congressional committee, not released to the public.
The bills are now awaiting signature by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Jason Cornwall, a spokesman for the governor, told reporters that Cuomo supports the bills, and Cuomo has made public statements recently affirming his support.
Republican members of the New York legislature criticized the bills as “bad public policy,” an overreach of legislative powers, and a distraction from more critical state issues.
“The fact that we’re talking about taxes in this house is ironic because we’re not talking about the taxes that New Yorkers pay, which are the highest in the nation,” said State Sen. Rob Ortt (R-Buffal0).
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