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New York can't prosecute Paul Manafort after Trump pardon, court rules

Former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort won't face a second round of prosecution in New York state after a court affirmed the state and federal charges against him constituted double jeopardy.

Manafort was sentenced to more than seven years in prison in early 2019 after being charged with financial crimes, as well as witness tampering and unregistered lobbying, as a result of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance charged Manafort with pretty much the same financial crimes shortly after his second sentence in what was seemingly an insurance policy against Trump's likely pardon of Manafort. After all, a president cannot pardon someone charged with state crimes.

But the overlap turned out to work against Vance. In December 2019, New York state Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley threw out the state's charges, saying that "the law of double jeopardy in New York State provides a very narrow window for prosecution." Vance took the case to the New York Court of Appeals — the state's highest court — but it said last week that it had declined to review the case. As a result, Wiley's ruling will stand.

Trump did end up pardoning Manafort in December, though he was already serving his sentence at home due to COVID-19 concerns. Manafort had pleaded not guilty to the New York charges, and his lawyer told The New York Times he is pleased with the result. Manafort could still be charged with other federal or state crimes.