Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly working with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on his investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Politico reports that Mueller and the NY AG’s office have communicated regularly in recent weeks and shared evidence, though indictments are not immediately forthcoming. Schneiderman’s team is also said to be investigating transactions related to Trump businesses and may share its findings with Mueller.
Schneiderman is a vociferous Trump critic who has engaged the administration in litigation related to the travel ban, health care reform, and deregulatory efforts.
Mueller joining his efforts with a state attorney general may be part of a strategy to mitigate against the president’s pardon power. Though the Constitution invests Trump with the power to pardon federal crimes, he cannot grant relief from prosecution for state or local crimes. Working with Schneiderman may ensure a state official is prepared to bring a case against Trump associates in the event the president pardons former business or campaign hands for federal crimes.
The strategy is not without risks, however. Some of Trump’s political aides have pilloried the special counsel for hiring at least seven lawyers for his task force who have donated to Democratic candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Working with Schneiderman may further encourage Trump loyalists to disparage the investigation as intensely partisan — or as Trump himself has styled it — “a political witch hunt.”
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