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- A Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on Thursday.
- DeSantis pledged Florida wouldn’t be involved in an extradition to New York, given that Trump lives in Palm Beach.
- Trump is expected to voluntarily appear next week before a judge — rendering the extradition question moot.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida pledged Thursday that state officials would not help extradite former President Donald Trump from Florida to New York in a charged political attack on the prosecutor, following the first-ever indictment of a former president.
DeSantis in a statement on Twitter accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of “stretching the law to target a political opponent,” though he didn’t name Trump or Bragg.
“Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to Democratic super PAC megadonor George Soros who did not directly support Bragg.
Trump is required by law to appear before a judge to address the criminal charges and is expected to voluntarily do so — rendering the extradition question moot for DeSantis, who is expected to enter the GOP presidential race soon where he’ll need to siphon support from Trump’s base.
The unprecedented situation is rewriting the campaign playbook. DeSantis and Republican 2024 rivals have struck notes of fury at the investigation at a time incensed voters are likely to rally around the ex-president, with a longer term goal of differentiating themselves from his deepening legal troubles.
In DeSantis’ case, he’s also still an officeholder. And interstate extradition is required by Article 4, Section 2 of the US Constitution. While the governor couldn’t stop Trump’s extradition from Florida, he may be able to slow the process if Trump didn’t want to surrender voluntarily from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
The Florida extradition statute describes two ways of extraditing people from Florida to another state where they face criminal charges.
In the more common method — which DeSantis appeared to refer to — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul would send an extradition demand to the Florida governor. The governor’s only role is making sure the demand meets all the legal requirements before ordering the extradition, legal experts told Insider. The demand would have to include a copy of the indictment, proving there’s a warrant out for Trump’s arrest.
If DeSantis wanted to slow the process he could ask his legal affairs office or a prosecutor to review Hochul’s extradition demand and write a report before signing off on it. If the extradition demand is legitimate, however, he’ll have to sign it within 60 days, legal experts said. He could also delegate and let another member of the Florida executive branch sign off on Hochul’s extradition demand.
In the second extradition method, Manhattan prosecutors could bypass the governors entirely and ask a Florida court to order Trump to show up in New York court.
Trump, however, appears poised to head to New York without force.
“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan DA’s office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
Attorneys for the DA and for Trump are set to mutually agree on a time and place, likely the district attorney’s office in Manhattan, to book the ex-president, take his fingerprints, and shoot his mugshot.
Ron DeSantis (left) and Donald Trump.
Mario Tama/Getty Images; Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
The charges come as DeSantis is expected to challenge Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination
The charges are still under seal, but the Manhattan district attorney’s office is expected to have brought charges over falsified records related to his payments to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet ahead of the 2016 election about an affair she claims she had with him.
The latest comments by DeSantis, considered to be Trump’s lead rival should he enter the 2024 GOP presidential nomination contest, echo others the governor made during a press conference in Florida a week ago.
Then, however, DeSantis also dug at Trump for the allegations, which are believed to stem from his alleged affair and hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
He also drew the ire of Trump’s MAGA base, who said he was downplaying the matter when he said he had to focus on “issues that actually matter to people.”
DeSantis did also criticize the investigation as politically motivated and lambasted Bragg for his record in New York amid rising crime. On Thursday, DeSantis doubled down on the remarks on Twitter.
“The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head,” he wrote. “It is un-American. The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct.”