Q&A of the Day – Could DeSantis Block a Potential Trump Extradition?

Q&A of the Day – Could DeSantis Block a Potential Trump Extradition?  

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.   

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Social: @brianmuddradio    

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.    

Today’s Entry: Brian, I’d heard that DeSantis could potentially block the NY DA from arresting Trump. Can you research this for us? Thanks! 

Bottom Line: You bet, in fact this is one of many related notes I received over the past few days which led to my third takeaway yesterday which was... DeSantis can’t stop Trump’s extradition. As I mentioned... If this indictment really goes down today or any other day. One of two things would happen. Trump would voluntarily show up to be booked in Manhattan, where he’d quickly be released after a mug shot, or he’d resist and would be extradited. Now if it’s the extradition route, DeSantis does come into play as New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul would send the request to Governor DeSantis. However, under law all he has the right to do is investigate the authenticity of the arrest warrant – for the purpose of extradition. Now he does have up to 60 days to do that, so he could lawfully slow walk extradition if it came to it, but he couldn’t prevent it. Now, aside from Trump not having been indicted yesterday, as he first indicated would be the case on Saturday, we’ve also heard of another development in this story should the Manhattan DA choose to pursue the indictment the former president. Trump might not fight it which as mentioned would make the role Governor DeSantis could play moot.  

The concept of extradition is familiar to most of us but in the context of sending alleged criminals between countries. Historically, at any given time, we have approximately 3,000 pending extradition cases under review with foreign governments. Most just don’t make the news. It happens between states too, though it rarely draws much attention. Extradition between states works much the same way it does between countries because the principle is much the same. Just as a criminal might flee a country to attempt to avoid prosecution, it obviously happens between states as well. One of the main reasons extradition between states isn’t something we hear more about, is that most commonly those facing charges in other states voluntarily surrender after having been apprehended. Standard legal advice to those who’re indicted is not to fight it, as there is no way to successfully do so under federal law and doing so could potentially be taken under consideration during sentencing should a suspect be found guilty. In fact, the last time there was even a delay in extradition from a state occurred in Rhode Island in 2011, when Governor Lincoln Chafee refused to honor an extradition request for a murder suspect because Rhode Island doesn’t allow for the death penalty, but the federal government does. Within a matter of months Chafee was forced by the feds to stand down and the suspect was transferred to their custody. That takes us to why that was the case and why DeSantis couldn’t prevent the extradition of Donald Trump to New York if he’s indicted.   

The United States Constitution addresses this specifically in The Extradition Clause which is found in Article IV Section 2 and states

  • A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime. 

While each state, including Florida, has specific policy for the handling of extraditions, obviously no state can ignore it. The way the extradition process typically works is that the Attorney General of the state in which an arrest warrant was issued, sends an extradition request to the governor in the state where the crime was committed. The governor of that state then sends an official extradition request to the governor of the state in which the suspect is located. Once this is done the warrant and request are registered into the National Crime Information Center which serves as the conduit for warrant information across the country. This also starts the official timetable for the extradition process.  

Under law, uncontested extradition must occur between states within 30 days. If there are extenuating circumstances, and/or if the governor in receipt of the arrest warrant questions the legitimacy of the warrant, an official review to determine the authenticity of the warrant may be ordered. That review may take up to 30 days to complete. That means the maximum amount of time a state can hold onto a suspect under lawful extradition is 60 days. Notably, the most recent reporting on the matter, from those theoretically in contact with the Trump defense team, suggests that if indicted, Trump would cooperate with the arrest warrant. Negotiating a date and time to willfully be booked in Manhattan and released on his own reconnaissance.  

So yes, despite the “Trump is a Floridian” social push of a couple of days ago, in which many were suggesting Governor DeSantis could do something to protect the former president from a potential indictment from the Manhattan DA...they were off base. The Constitution is clear on this matter and the only questions are if the Manhattan DA will bring charges and how Trump chooses to handle it if he does.  

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