Officials in Palm Beach, Florida, are reportedly preparing for the possibility that an out-of-state extradition request for former President Donald Trump may be issued in the next year. But there’s one huge caveat: They’re unsure how Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch supporter of the former president, may impede such a request.
Reporting from Politico details how officials in Palm Beach, near Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, are making specific preparations for the event that he may be charged with crimes in New York, once an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is completed. Vance is looking into whether Trump and/or the Trump Organization committed a myriad of possible financial crimes, including tax, banking and insurance fraud, using a process of inflating or deflating Trump’s assets to serve his interests.
An extradition request could come from Vance sometime this year. The Manhattan district attorney is retiring after 2021, and it’s largely assumed that, if he plans to issue indictment charges against Trump, he will do so before leaving office.
The U.S. Constitution requires a state to extradite any person within its jurisdiction to the state where that person is being charged with committing a crime. Federal law also stipulates that the “executive authority” of a state that receives an extradition request must “arrest and secure” the person being sought.
But a Florida statute may make things difficult. Under that state’s laws, the governor is allowed to order officials under their purview to “investigate or assist in investigating the demand,” and to report back to them the situation, after which the governor may determine “whether the person ought to be surrendered.”
In other words, DeSantis — whom Trump has floated as a possible vice presidential running mate in 2024, and who is also the first choice among Republican voters to run for president if Trump opts out of doing so — could look at the evidence Vance puts forward, and decide it is not compelling enough for him to comply. Such a move would likely be viewed as political posturing, as trying to appease the GOP base, which is adamantly pro-Trump.
Should DeSantis decide against extraditing Trump, the matter would undoubtedly go before the U.S. Supreme Court, which would then have to decide who is right in the matter as it’s the arbiter in disputes between states. If that happens, it could play out to Trump’s advantage in two ways.
First, it would delay the process, as the court would have to schedule a time to hear the case, consider the merits as presented by each side, and arrive at a decision. That would give Trump more time to consider other legal options before he ever has to make an appearance in New York to answer for potential charges.
The other advantage Trump would have is the current makeup of the Supreme Court, which is six to three in favor of conservatives, with 50 percent of the conservative bloc made up of Trump appointees (although they have ruled against Trump on other occasions).
Beyond Vance’s investigations in New York, Trump faces at least four other investigations, including one in Georgia led by a Republican, which may also result in extradition requests — giving DeSantis more opportunities to intervene on Trump’s behalf.
Another inquiry in New York, by state Attorney General Letitia James, is also looking into potential financial crimes Trump may have committed. Two inquiries are happening in Georgia, at the state level and in Fulton County, where investigators are looking into whether the former president unlawfully sought to influence officials into changing election results there. And in Washington, D.C., Trump may face future charges relating to his incitement of a mob of his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol building on January 6.