Attorney General

Bill Curbing President’s Pardon Power Heads To Cuomo’s Desk

A bill meant to curb the power and reach of the president’s pardon in New York was granted final approval by the Democratic-led state Assembly on Tuesday and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s for his signature.

The bill would allow New York prosecutors to bring cases against those who have worked in a presidential administration or a member of the president’s family after receiving a pardon.

Lawmakers at a press conference on Tuesday insisted the bill was not aimed at President Donald Trump, who is being investigated by Attorney General Letitia James’s office.

“We try to tread very carefully because we didn’t want to target the president, we wanted to target the abuse,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol at a press conference flanked by James and Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

A former federal prosecutor, Kaminsky said the legislation is in line with what other states have on the books.

“We know the president’s pardon power is sweeping; there’s no debate about that,” he said. “But when we’re confronted with a corrupt or capricious use of that, New York does not have to stand idly by.”

The bill’s passage is a victory for James, who had sought the legislation earlier this year. Her office is reportedly investigating ties between Trump’s businesses and major lenders, such as Deutsche Bank.

“This loophole, which effectively allows the president to pardon state crimes, deserved to be closed,” she said. “It’s really critically important that individuals understand the power of state’s rights.”

The Assembly is expected on Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow congressional Democrats to gain access to the president’s New York tax filings. The bill will include an amendment set to pass in the state Senate that narrows the scope of the tax legislation to elected officials.

Republicans called the focus on Trump at the state Capitol a waste of time that does little to help New Yorkers.

“Bringing politics of Washington into this chamber I think is a complete waste of time,” said Brian Kolb, the Assembly minority leader.

“I think there’s enough grandstanding to go around here as well as in Washington. This is all political grandstanding and it’s using New York state taxpayer money to advance political causes and not do one thing to take people out of poverty.”

With Friends Like These…

Attorney General Letitia James in a live interview with the liberal podcast Pod Save America did not mince words when asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s run for the presidency.

“Listen, we need a mayor who is going to be on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said to cheers in front of a live audience.

James, the former public advocate in New York City who had been an ally of de Blasio’s listed a series of policy issues where she believes the mayor has fallen short.

“So I ask the question: Has the crisis in affordable housing been addressed? No,” she said. “Has income inequality been addressed? No. Equal pay for equal work? No. How about cyclists who are unfortunately dying on our streets as the result of crashes? No. So what is the legacy? What are you running on? Has school segregation been addressed? Listen, he can run, he’s the 23rd candidate, I understand that. But the question is why? Por que? Like what’s up?

With a pause and a head tilt, James added, “But he’s a friend.”

The comments made in the interview were similar to what she told NY1 on Thursday as de Blasio launched his campaign.

“Serving as mayor of the City of New York is the second toughest job in our nation and New Yorkers require a mayor who is laser focused on the issues affecting our city,” she said. “I think it’s an issue that he should think about while he’s in Ohio.”

James last year was the victor in a crowded Democratic primary field for attorney general, backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been at odds with the mayor over the years. De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, endorsed James’s primary rival Zephyr Teachout.

James Pushes Feds To Enforce ACA Provision

Attorney General Letitia James on Monday in a letter co-signed by a dozen attorneys general knocked the federal government for failing to enforce aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

The letter takes issue with the U.S. Department of Labor for not informing consumers about provisions and benefits of the law, known commonly as Obamacare, such as requirements like the Essential Health Benefits Package now apply for those enrolled in small group plans and as well as individuals.

And the attorneys general urged the Department of Labor to clearly tell consumers what is available under the law when it comes to ACA requirements.

“Our federal government should be doing everything in its power to protect and expand access to healthcare, not deny it,” James said. “This new policy is both deceiving and dangerous – it fails to adequately inform policyholders of the true extent of the coverage that they have a legal right to, and that plans should be providing. All Americans deserve access to quality healthcare and we will continue to fight to ensure this basic right.”

The letter also raises the possibility of a legal challenge to the lack of enforcement over the provision.

The attorney general’s office in New York last year filed a lawsuit blocking President Donald Trump’s administration from efforts the office said would gut the law and undo key insurance protections.

James Marks First 100 Days In AG’s Office

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday marked her first 100 days in office, releasing a minute-long video highlighting her efforts to counteract President Donald Trump’s administration, combatting opioid addiction and aiding tenants.

James, the former New York City public advocate, ran in the five-person Democratic primary last year after incumbent Eric Schniederman resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

In addition to the video posted to Twitter, her office released a lengthy list of accomplishment highlighting legal actions that range from the high-profile, like challenging the Trump administration’s funding for a border wall and environmental policies, to money for community land trusts.

AG’s Bill Strengthening Tenant Rights Heads To Cuomo’s Desk

A bill meant to bolster protections for tenants cleared the Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his approval.

The measure is program bill for Attorney General Letitia James and would create new penalties for landlords who seek to induce a tenant to leave their home, expand penalties for landlords who create unhealthy living conditions in order for a renter to leave and creates a felony for repeated offenses.

“Over the years I have heard far too many horror stories from my constituents about the harassment they have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous landlords trying to drive them out of their homes. But as the law stands now, it is nearly impossible for criminal charges to be filed against even the worst offenders,” Sen. Liz Krueger, who sponsored the legislation with Assemblyman Joe Lentol.

“It is high time this law was updated to protect tenants and give them a fighting chance, and to safeguard our dwindling stock of affordable housing. I commend Attorney General James for her leadership on this issue, and I urge the Governor to sign this bill so that rent-regulated New Yorkers can live free of the fear of harassment from their landlords.”

Current law requires prosecutors to prove that when a landlord causes a tenant to leave their homes, they must demonstrate a physical injury due to the landlord’s actions and that the landlord intended to cause that injury.

“For far too long, unscrupulous landlords have gotten away with subjecting rent-regulated tenants to dangerous and horrific conditions in an attempt to force them out of their homes,” James said.

“The landlords behind these serious acts of tenant harassment have been able to evade justice because the standard for proving criminal culpability has been impossibly high – today that begins to change. This bill will go a long way in protecting our most vulnerable tenants by changing the legal standard of harassment and allowing prosecutors to finally pursue these acts that have hurt countless New Yorkers.”

James Files To Block Federal Funds For Border Wall

Attorney General Letitia James signed on to a multi-state effort on Friday to block President Donald Trump’s administration from using $1.6 billion in federal money for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The filing was part of a coalition of 20 states that is being led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

“Diverting funds from key initiatives in order to fund an unnecessary and unwarranted wall is fundamentally irresponsible, undermines Congressional power, and will hurt every American across this nation,” James said in a statement. “We will continue to work with other states in order to prevent this blatant abuse of power.”

The motion argues the president is illegally using executive action to spend the money on the wall, a key campaign pledge for Trump, and violates the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers principles.

Ultimately Trump wants to send up to $6.7 billion through the Department of Treasury’s Forfeiture Fund to build the wall.

James has pledged to take an aggressive legal posture toward the Trump administration’s policies and has launched an investigation into the president’s failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills.

James Moves To Sue Sackler Family

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday moved to file a lawsuit against the Sackler family, the controlling owners of Purdue Pharma, a company that has been blamed for the proliferation of the prescription painkiller OxyContin and the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit is one of the first major legal cases James has brought outside of her office’s legal challenges to the policies of President Donlad Trump’s administration.

“The opioid epidemic has ravaged families and communities across New York,” James said.

“We found that pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors engaged in years of deceptive marketing about the risks of opioids and failed to exercise their basic duty to report suspicious behavior, leading to the crisis we are living with today. As the Sackler Family and the other defendants grew richer, New Yorkers’ health grew poorer and our state was left to foot the bill. The manufacturers and distributors of opioids are to blame for this crisis and it is past time they take responsibility.”

The complaint alleges the opioid epidemic was allowed to spread due to fraud and misconduct from both manufacturers and distributors to sell to individual pharmacies. James’s office pointed to “systemic failures” that led to shipments of painkillers to New York pharmacies despite red flags such as those prescriptions paid for in cash or written by a small number of providers.

James Says There’s A Deal To Close Double Jeopardy Loophole

State lawmakers have agreed on a bill that could pave the way for New York prosecutors to bring cases against people who have received presidential pardons, Attorney General Letitia James said on Tuesday.

“This bill is not specifically tailored to any individual,” James said at a news conference. “It focuses on closing a loophole and those individuals who would attempt to evade justice.”

The bill is meant to close the so-called double jeopardy loophole created when a person receives a presidential pardon. The bill was initially proposed as President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, would receive a presidential pardon following money laundering and fraud convictions.

Other Trump former campaign and administration figures are facing legal scrutiny as well as part of a widening case surrounding the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

But an amended version of the bill would only allow prosecutes to seek charges against those who have worked for a sitting president or were part of their family.

“Double jeopardy as you know has existed since the founding of our country,” James said. “But these protections exist for protecting Americans from being charged twice for the same crimes. I recognize that there’s a concept in the constitution known as dual sovereignty. It’s important that each state have the ability to defend and prosecute its state statute.”

James on Tuesday at the Capitol met with state lawmakers to discuss the bill and other issues in her office.

“We do have an agreement with both houses,” she said. “We anticipate the bill will be passed in the coming weeks.”

James also confirmed her office had issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank. The investigation reportedly surrounds Trump’s efforts to purchase the Buffalo Bills football team in 2014.

James Suggests Litigation Likely Over Trump Emergency Declaration

New York Attorney General Letitia James criticized President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday meant to access funds to build a border wall and indicated she will launch a legal challenge as a result.

“Declaring a National Emergency without legitimate cause could create a Constitutional crisis,” said James, a Democrat who took office this year.

“This action will harm Americans across the country by diverting funds necessary to handle real emergencies and real disasters to advance the President’s personal agenda. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal.”

Trump on Friday declared the emergency after a federal budget appropriation bill set aside far less than the $5 billion the president is seeking to build the wall on the southern border with Mexico, a signature campaign pledge.

Legal experts have indicated the declaration is likely to face several legal challenges.

James Backs Effort To Block Deportations

Attorney General Letitia James’s office on Friday joined in a friend-of-the-court brief opposing an effort that could lead to the deportation of hundreds of thousand of people who have temporary protected status.

The brief, filed as part of a coalition with 22 attorneys general, called on the Ninth Circuit Court to uphold an injunction that plaintiffs successfully received in the lower federal idstrict court that blocked the Department of Homeland Security from rescinding the designation for Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

“Immigrant New Yorkers are critical to the economic and cultural strength of our state,” James said. “The Trump Administration continues to take away the vital protections for these communities, and as a result, is putting their safety and wellbeing at risk. My office will continue to use every resource at our disposal to protect New York’s vast immigrant communities.”

Temporary protected status is a designation for refugees who have fled home countries engulfed in either armed conflict, a natural disaster or emergency crisis.