New York governor unlikely to pardon Trump, despite bipartisan appeal

Among those urging Hochul to pardon the former president is Rep. Dean Phillips.

Gov. Kathy Hochul arrives for a New York Stands with Israel Vigil and Rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York on Oct. 10, 2023. (Shutterstock)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is facing bipartisan calls to pardon former President Donald Trump for his recent felony convictions, a scenario she has signaled is unlikely to happen.

President Trump became the first U.S. president to be convicted of a crime after a 12-person New York jury returned a guilty verdict in a highly controversial trial stemming from a payment made to an adult film actress before the 2016 election. He pleaded not guilty and dismissed the roughly seven-week proceeding as a “rigged” and “very unfair” scheme to undermine his reelection campaign.

If President Trump won a second term, he could pardon himself if convicted in his two federal cases, but not for the convictions he received in New York.

The U.S. Constitution limits the presidential pardon authority to “offenses against the United States,” meaning that the president may only pardon federal offenses and offenses adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in the name of the United States. That leaves Ms. Hochul as the sole person with the power to pardon the convictions and subsequent sentences.

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), denouncing the verdict as “politically motivated,” said the Democrat governor should “immediately announce her intention” to pardon the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and “preemptively commute any sentence.”

“To not do so is to allow America to become a banana republic,” the Republican congressman wrote in a post on X on Thursday.

“President Trump’s fate, and the 2024 presidential election, should be decided by voters, not overzealous politically motivated prosecutors and an imbalanced jury.”

Also among those urging Ms. Hochul to pardon the former president’s historic felony conviction is Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who ran a long-shot bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination this year before endorsing President Joe Biden.

“Donald Trump is a serial liar, cheater, and philanderer, a six-time declarer of corporate bankruptcy, an instigator of insurrection, and a convicted felon who thrives on portraying himself as a victim,” Mr. Phillips wrote on Friday on X, before suggesting that Ms. Hochul should pardon him anyway, “for the good of the country.”

In a follow-up post on Saturday, Mr. Phillips expressed worries that the outrage over the verdict is being turned into a fundraising boon.

“You think pardoning is stupid? Making him a martyr over a payment to a porn star is stupid,” he wrote. “It’s energizing his base, generating record sums of campaign cash, and will likely result in an electoral boost.”

Despite the calls, Ms. Hochul has indicated that she would not consider such a move.

“Today’s verdict reaffirms that no one is above the law,” Ms. Hochul’s office said in a statement following the guilty verdict.

“In preparation for a verdict in this trial, I directed my Administration to closely coordinate with local and federal law enforcement and we continue to monitor the situation,” it continued. “We are committed to protecting the safety of all New Yorkers and the integrity of our judicial system.”

The conviction did appear to serve as a booster to the Trump campaign, which announced Friday that it had raised nearly $53 million in the matter of a day.

“THAT’S MORE THAN $2 MILLION PER HOUR!” the Trump campaign said, emphasizing that more than one-third of those opening their wallets are first-time donors. “It is clear that more and more Americans are seeing through the Biden election interference and joining President Trump in the movement to save our nation.”

According to a new Morning Consult poll released Saturday, an overwhelming majority of Republican voters (77 percent) and nearly half of independents (43 percent) said they believe the conviction was driven by motivation to damage Trump’s political career.

Meanwhile, an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Reuters found that 25 percent of independent voters said they were less likely to vote for President Trump after his conviction, while 18 percent said they were more likely to support him.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday in the lobby of Trump Tower in downtown Manhattan, President Trump highlighted his lead in several polls over President Biden and the millions of dollars raised from small donors. He also alleged that President Biden was behind the trial.

“They are in total conjunction with the White House and the DOJ (Department of Justice), just so you understand,” he said at the press conference. “This is all done by Biden and his people.”

President Biden said Friday that he has nothing to do with the trial, and that his convicted opponent “was given every opportunity to defend himself.”

“It was a state case, not a federal case. It was heard by a jury of 12 citizens, 12 Americans, 12 people like you, like millions of Americans who’ve served on juries. This jury was chosen the same way every jury in America is chosen. It was a process that Donald Trump’s attorney was part of,” President Biden said from the White House, before delivering remarks on the ongoing war in the Middle East.

President Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention kicks off in Milwaukee.

This article was originally published at The Epoch Times


Bill Pan | The Epoch Times

Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.