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The Manhattan district attorney’s office is preparing state criminal charges against Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, in an effort to ensure he will still face prison time even if the president pardons him for his federal crimes, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.
Mr. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced next month for convictions in two federal cases brought by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. He faces up to 25 years in prison for tax and bank fraud and additional time for conspiracy counts in a related case. It could effectively be a life sentence for Mr. Manafort, who turns 70 in April.
The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but no such authority in state cases. And while there has been no clear indication that Mr. Trump intends to pardon Mr. Manafort, the president has spoken repeatedly of his pardon power and defended his former campaign manager on a number of occasions, calling him a “brave man.”
Mr. Vance’s office first began investigating Mr. Manafort in 2017 in connection with loans he received from two banks. Those loans were also the subject of some of the counts in the federal indictment that led to his conviction last year. But the state prosecutors deferred their inquiry in order not to interfere with Mr. Mueller’s case.
They resumed their investigation in recent months, and a state grand jury began hearing evidence in the case, several people with knowledge of the matter said. The panel is expected to wrap up its work in the coming weeks, several of the people said, and prosecutors likely will ask the grand jurors to vote on charges shortly thereafter.
Mr. Vance’s office is expected to seek charges whether or not the president pardons Mr. Manafort. The plan was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Any charges brought by Mr. Vance’s office would likely be challenged on double jeopardy grounds. New York state law includes stronger protections than those provided by the United States Constitution, and Mr. Manafort’s defense team is likely to challenge state charges. But prosecutors in Mr. Vance’s office have expressed confidence that they would prevail, people with knowledge of the matter said.