Trump can’t pardon state crimes. And I’m pretty certain that Trump doesn’t know this (or at least didn’t).
Politico reported Wednesday that New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman is now working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in the probe of financial transactions involving Paul Manafort, a story independently confirmed by The Washington Post by a source familiar with the investigation.
While the involvement of Schneiderman could produce nothing and is in an early stage, the news sends an important message to President Trump: his pardon power does not extend to state crimes.
In the event Manafort or anyone else is charged under New York law, or threatened with indictment, there will be nothing Trump can do about it.
His “power to grant reprieves and pardons” only covers “offenses against the United States,” according to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.