Any potential criminal indictment of former President Donald Trump could reportedly face complications depending on which of Trump's two most-frequented residences — his homes in New Jersey and Florida — he's living in at the time.
Law enforcement officials in Palm Beach County, Fla., have been preparing for the possibility that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who has been conducting a criminal investigation into Trump’s real-estate business, could indict the former president while he’s at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Politico reported, citing two high-ranking county officials involved in the planning.
Topics discussed in the planning meetings included how to handle any possible issues with extradition.
Trump has spent most of his time since exiting the White House at Mar-a-Lago, however, he reportedly left Palm Beach on Mother’s Day to go to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for the summer.
Extradition statutes in Florida and New Jersey both give the governor power to investigate an out-of-state warrant – which could help or hurt Trump, depending on where he is.
For instance, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. a Trump ally, could intervene and even investigate whether an indicted "person ought to be surrendered" to law enforcement officials from another state, according to the state statute.
"The statute leaves room for interpretation that the governor has the power to order a review and potentially not comply with the extradition notice," said Joe Abruzzo, clerk of the Circuit Court of Palm Beach County.
In another twist, Abruzzo, a former close associate of President Joe Biden's younger brother, Frank, would be in charge of opening a potential fugitive-at-large case.
Abruzzo told Politico Playbook that despite his ties to the Biden family, "the full extent of the law will be followed and carried out appropriately, without bias."
Things could develop differently in a blue state like New Jersey, however. Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., also would have the power to investigate an out-of-state warrant, though, given the current polarized state of politics, it's unlikely he'd intervene to stop Trump’s extradition.
If an indictment is brought against Trump, the former president's lawyers also could negotiate a condition of surrender, a move that would likely cut out local law enforcement.
A Trump attorney declined comment to Politico.
Vance, a Democrat, said in a March 12 statement that he will retire at the end of 2021, so there has been speculation the district attorney’s office might issue indictments before his successor takes office.
The New York investigation began in 2018. It initially examined alleged hush money payments made to two women who claimed during Trump's 2016 campaign that they had affairs with him years earlier.
The probe has moved on to examine whether Trump's businesses engaged in criminal tax evasion or other improprieties.
Reuters reported that while the investigation has moved slowly, a person familiar with the probe said indictments could come this summer.
In February, the Supreme Court rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Vance, a Democrat.
That decision paved the way for Vance to obtain the tax returns and the financial records as part of the criminal investigation.
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