Mueller prosecutor says Trump could be ‘imprisoned’ in Florida.
Former President Donald Trump could end up stuck in Florida if he is indicted in New York and there is resistance to him being extradited, according to a top prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.
Looking ahead, Andrew Weissmann, a former Justice Department official and FBI general counsel, also suggested such a situation could limit Trump’s ability to inhabit the White House should he run for the presidency again in 2024.
“This happens all the time in foreign countries, where essentially you have people who are sort of imprisoned in a country. Here, Donald Trump would be imprisoned in Florida,” Weissmann said during an appearance on MSNBC. “If he went overseas, if he went to any other state, he would be subject to those laws, and so he would really have to stay in Florida. It certainly would be quite an interesting issue if he were to, for instance — this is way down the road — but if he were to try and run again for president, he would not be inhabiting the White House in that situation because there would be papers seeking his extradition to New York.”
Weissmann, who played an instrumental role in winning convictions against former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates during the Russia investigation and later lamented how he believed that the special counsel “could have done more” to hold Trump accountable, was reacting to a Politico report on Thursday that said officials in Palm Beach County, Florida, are grappling with the possibility of Trump being indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who is looking for possible bank, tax, or insurance fraud.
One point of discussion is the topic of extradition and the role of local law enforcement. A Florida statute gives the governor, who right now is Ron DeSantis, the ability to intervene and investigate whether a person charged with a crime “ought to be surrendered” to another state.
“The statute leaves room for interpretation that the governor has the power to order a review and potentially not comply with the extradition notice,” Joe Abruzzo, clerk of the Circuit Court of Palm Beach County, told the outlet.
Although some experts argue it would be a lost cause, Weissmann said DeSantis and Trump may very well have ways to delay extradition, but he warned that Florida would be acting “at its peril” because “one of the things that Florida wants is … to have its own extradition papers adhered to when they are seeking fugitives around the country to be extradited back to Florida for prosecution. So if they were to sort of play games with this, other states could, you know, retaliate.”
DeSantis is a former Republican congressman whom Trump has floated as a possible running mate if he runs for the White House again in 2024. While he might be opposed to extraditing Trump to New York, the situation gets more complicated with Trump expected to spend his summer in Bedminster, New Jersey, as his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach shuts down for the season.
The Politico report noted that New Jersey has a similar statute that gives the governor a warrant to investigate from out of state. That governor is Phil Murphy, a Democrat who has been critical of Trump, particularly after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Abruzzo was identified as being a former close associate of President Joe Biden’s younger brother, Frank, but he assured the outlet “the full extent of the law will be followed and carried out appropriately, without bias.”
The report said Trump’s legal team could negotiate a condition of surrender if he is indicted, which could preclude involvement of local law enforcement, but an attorney for the former president declined to comment. Vance announced plans earlier this year to retire at the end of 2021, and the report noted that there is speculation that indictments could happen before he leaves office.
The Trump Organization is also under investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump denies any wrongdoing and in February decried what he dubbed a “new phenomenon of ‘headhunting’ prosecutors and AGs.”