I asked Keith Whittington, a politics professor at Princeton University, whether Cohen could be pardoned by President Trump for any federal charges but still brought to trial on state charges.
“It could easily happen if there are several different actions that were legally problematic,” Whittington told me, “but it could also happen even if the same action (or related set of actions) violated both federal and state law. Just to take a high-profile, but very different, case — Dylann Roof was charged with both federal and state crimes resulting from his shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.”
Judith Miller, an associate professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, also referenced the Roof case when we spoke, telling me that Roof was convicted on federal hate crimes charges in federal court and sentenced to death, and pleaded guilty to murder charges in South Carolina state court, where he was sentenced to multiple life sentences.
“All the charges arose out of the same events, but both South Carolina and the federal government prosecuted him,” she said. “The charges weren’t brought as a mix of charges in one case, though. The state filed its charges, and the federal government filed separate charges.”
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