New York prosecutors should respond to President Donald Trump's assault on the rule of law in commuting Roger Stone's prison sentence by preparing a state prosecution against Stone, two noted criminal defense lawyers wrote in a CNN opinion piece on Monday.
Gerald Lefcourt and Robert Gottlieb argued that "It is not our habit to advocate prosecuting anyone. But we are defenders of our Constitution first. It is under assault."
They emphasized that the judge sentencing Stone said in February that "He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president."
The lawyers noted that bringing a new case against Stone is possible due to legislation in the New York Legislature signed into law last October that "enables New York district attorneys to prosecute what effectively amounts to certain friends and family of any president who pardoned them for federal convictions. Among the people who can be prosecuted are associates with information relevant to a civil or criminal investigation of the president," which would include Stone.
Lefcourt and Gottlieb acknowledged that "U.S. presidents have broad powers to pardon and commute sentences. However, here we have federal law enforcement neutralized by a president's commutation rewarding the cover-up to protect Trump. A state prosecution would put on trial a man we know is guilty."
The two emphasized that "Far outweighing any legal risk of bringing Stone to justice in New York is the national benefit: Standing up for the rule of law, showing that it survives in the offices of state prosecutors, if not in the White House."
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