Law professor Zephyr Teachout wants to be Attorney General of New York, and as she announced her candidacy on Tuesday she said her main campaign promise would be to investigate and litigate against President Donald Trump.
Standing outside Trump Tower in Manhattan for her campaign kickoff speech Teachout said previous New York Attorneys General had been too defensive and she wanted to go on the offensive against Trump, attacking his shady business practices. “I will use law as a sword,not just a shield,” she said.
“We must litigate more aggressively,” she added. “The beating heart of Trump’s corruption is right here in our state. It is through the Trump Organization, headquartered here in New York, that he has turned the presidency into his personal ATM — engaging in highly suspect business deals aimed at funneling money from foreign governments into his own pockets.”
Later appearing on The Beat With Ari Melber on MSNBC Teachout further elaborated on her comments about taking on Trump. She started off by saying:
” The president openly disrespects the law” and “I will not be cowed by presidential pardons or efforts to get out of the law”
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) June 5, 2018
“New York has strong laws against bank fraud, tax fraud, false statements, obstruction of governmental administration, larceny, money laundering, and bribery,” Teachout added. “The people of New York should know that when I am your Attorney General, we will not wait to investigate: we will aggressively investigate violations of these laws and others, digging into every file cabinet, finding every report tacked to the back of a real estate filing, and be always ready to use our full criminal and civil powers to protect the rule of law for the people of New York.”
Melber asked about her focus on Trump in her New York campaign:
“Why are you making an issue of potential use of pardons for crimes in New York state that have not been yet charged, let alone convicted?” Melber asked.
“Well, in this past week, Donald Trump and his lawyers have made a series of claims, essentially saying they’re above the law,” Teachout replied. “What we need to make very clear, is that a presidential pardon of federal crimes will not cover all state crimes, that those associates would still be vulnerable to prosecution under New York state law.”
“There’s reason to believe that there would be, for many of his associates, a lot of separate New York crimes,” she continued. “New York has very extensive, powerful bank fraud laws, money laundering laws, bribery and larceny laws.”
The President of the United States has expansive ability to pardon those convicted of federal crimes, but the pardon power for state convictions lies with the governor. Therefore if the state of New York aggressively pursues criminal charges against the president and his associates then justice will be served despite Trump pardons of federal criminal convictions.