In a column for NBC News, Carol Lam, the former U.S. Attorney for Southern California, wrote that -- due to legal maneuverings by Donald Trump's lawyers -- prosecutors in Manhattan looking into his tax returns normally would find themselves under the gun to file criminal charges but they received a helping hand from lawmakers in the state.
Lam noted that Trump's attorneys did a good job repeatedly appealing to the Supreme Court to halt the release of what has been described as "millions of documents" related to his personal finances and his Trump Organization, and that has put prosecutors under the gun due to statue of limitations laws.
"First, almost all federal and state criminal law violations have a deadline known as a statute of limitations, beyond which a suspect cannot be charged with a crime. Statutes of limitations vary widely among states and the federal system. Some serious crimes may have statutes of limitations as long as 10 or 20 years," she wrote before adding the rules governing prosecuting a sitting president -- whether right or wrong -- worked in Trump's favor.
Writing, "A president who serves a four-year term would be absolved of many criminal acts; a president who serves two four-year terms would escape criminal liability for almost any crime committed before or during his first presidential term," she added that Trump may still not benefit in the way he had hoped.
"The state of New York has taken common sense action to remedy this problem with respect to potential state prosecutions of former presidents. On Feb. 10, the New York state Legislature passed the "New York No Citizen is Above the Law Act," sponsored by the Senate's Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris. The new law provides that if a former president is charged with a New York state crime, the amount of time he was president is excluded from the calculation of the statute of limitations," she wrote before issuing a warning.
"Whether this law can apply to criminal conduct that predated the law's passage remains to be seen, but there is a sound argument that it can be applied if the statute of limitations had not yet expired when the act was passed," she suggested.
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