Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
In what may or may not turn out to possibly be a form of wish-fulfillment fantasy on the part of the corporate media, Palm Beach County, Fla., officials in law enforcement are supposedly making contingency plans if Donald Trump gets criminally indicted in New York.
Pro-Trump Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a potential wild card when it comes to possible extradition to the Empire State, however, as long as Trump is living at Mar-a-Lago.
Complicating legal matters perhaps, the former president has temporarily fled the Florida heat, using that word’s traditional definition, to live at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., for the summer.
For some time, the office of Manhattan Democrat District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., has been sifting through Trump’s financial affairs to try to find some alleged illegality to pin on the ex-POTUS.
Vance is not seeking reelection for a fourth term, so if he finds or found anything improper, it is expected to emerge before the end of the year presumably as a liberal legacy play.
Although the procedure for law enforcement authorities in one state to send someone back to another state to face charges is generally routine, Politico — which claims it got the scoop from two, unnamed high-ranking Palm Beach County officials who participated in the pre-indictment planning — also outlined the potential scenario in which applicable law could potentially allow DeSantis to block extradition.
“Among the topics discussed in those [Palm Beach law enforcement] meetings: how to handle the thorny extradition issues that could arise if an indictment moves forward.
“An obscure clause in Florida’s statute on interstate extradition gives…DeSantis the ability to intervene and even investigate whether an indicted ‘person ought to be surrendered’ to law enforcement officials from another state.”
The relevant law is set forth in Florida Statutes Section 941.04, which reads as follows:
When a demand shall be made upon the Governor of this state by the executive authority of another state for the surrender of a person so charged with crime, the Governor may call upon the Department of Legal Affairs or any prosecuting officer in this state to investigate or assist in investigating the demand, and to report to him or her the situation and circumstances of the person so demanded, and whether the person ought to be surrendered.”
According to Joe Arbruzzo, clerk of the Palm Beach County Circuit, “The statute leaves room for interpretation that the governor has the power to order a review and potentially not comply with the extradition notice,” which suggests that intervention by DeSantis, if any, will likely prompt much legal wrangling.
It certainly would make an interesting law school hypothetical.
It also turns out that Arbruzzo — the official who would handle a “fugitive-at-large case” for the court system — is, according to Politico, a friend of the Biden family, but he has vowed that “the full extent of the law will be followed and carried out appropriately, without bias.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Trump to submit his tax records to Vance’s office.
An indictment coming down while Trump is in Bedminster could be problematic, however, if extradition becomes an issue. Although a similar statute to Florida’s is on the books in New Jersey, it is highly unlikely that the state’s lockdown-loving Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy would lift a finger to do anything perceived as helping Donald Trump.
Although, in general, it is seldom difficult for a prosecutor to obtain an indictment (which is a one-sided rendition of a case), it is pure speculation as to whether any indictment in this instance will ever emerge, and whether President Trump would contest extradition, if it ever becomes necessary. He is obviously a fighter, however, with a track record of confronting his adversaries in court.
“In the event of an indictment, Trump’s lawyers could also negotiate a condition of surrender, which could cut local law enforcement out,” Politico added. Team Trump has offered no comment about the news outlet’s story.
It’s difficult to picture Donald Trump as a so-called fugitive, but 2021 is shaping up to be as weird as 2020.
Palm Beach recently turned away attempts by some neighbors to “evict” President Trump from Mar-a-Lago. The town attorney concluded that Trump is a bona fide employee of the lavish Palm Beach private club and thus could live there full time with Melania and Barron.
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