Donald J. Trump took time out of his schedule to issue a pardon for a friend of his son in law, Jared Kushner. Ken Kurson, the friend in question, was facing the reality of potential federal charges for cyberstalking. Kurson had installed spyware on his wife’s computer in order to monitor, harass, and capture her communication—acts that constitute crimes under federal statute. Cyberstalking, like revenge porn, frequently has one goal: to control someone else and stifle them from speaking out or getting away from the harasser. It’s a way to trap and force someone to stay quiet. For these reasons, under federal law, you can serve up to five years in prison for acts of cyberstalking.
Well, that is if you don’t have a president in your back pocket who will try to give you a get-out-of-jail-free card. To that end, Trump tried to give Kurson a pass with a presidential pardon. Now, long after Trump has disgraced the halls of the White House, Kurson finds himself potentially making new friends … in the New York Corrections System.
But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance recently revealed that Trump’s pardon will be ineffectual in the latest proceeding.
“We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” Vance said in a statement. “As alleged in the complaint, Mr. Kurson launched a campaign of cybercrime, manipulation, and abuse from his perch at the New York Observer, and now the people of New York will hold him accountable.”
Trump had, according to Salon, provided a pardon to Kurson as he was wrapping up negotiations for a plea deal—but the free pass seemed better than any federal jail time. While Trump’s get-out-of-jail-free card sounds perfect, the one thing a president can’t get around is offering a pardon for state and local crimes as well. And on those grounds, District Attorney Cyrus Vance looks ready to proceed. With the state of New York establishing cyberstalking as a state-level crime, Trump’s pardoning pen simply can’t act as a get-out-of-jail-free card. In the same way a president can’t, well, pardon parking tickets. In fact, as long as a crime isn’t interstate, many crimes can be handled by the state or district prosecutor, not a federal attorney.
Nice set of friends you hang out with there, Jared. Feel free to tell Eddie Train this isn’t going to work out for him.
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