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DeSantis, possible Trump rival, says he won’t assist in extradition

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks Thursday in Smyrna, Ga. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images)
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Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible rival to Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said on Twitter that Florida will not work with New York on any extradition requests in case one is necessary for the newly indicted former president.

“Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue” with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his “political agenda,” DeSantis said.

Legal experts say DeSantis could resist a move to extradite Trump but not stop it — and the Florida governor would not play a role if the former president surrenders.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Bragg said the Manhattan district attorney’s office has contacted Trump’s attorney “to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment.” It is not clear yet whether Trump will surrender voluntarily.

Trump indicted by N.Y. grand jury, first ex-president charged with crime

In a tweet, DeSantis accused Bragg of weaponizing the legal system “to advance a political agenda” that he said “turns the rule of law on its head.”

“It is un-American,” the governor said.

DeSantis would need to build a solid legal case to decline an extradition request. According to Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, no state has the right to decline an extradition request from another state.

“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 executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime,” the Constitution reads.

Federal law also outlines that states are required to comply with other states’ extradition requests.

Florida statute says that if the governor receives an extradition request from officials in another state and “decides that the demand should be complied with,” they sign an arrest warrant. Michael Bachner, a former prosecutor in Manhattan, said in an interview Thursday that “DeSantis would be very hard pressed legally to refuse” an extradition request for Trump, given that DeSantis is supposed to play only an administrative role.

And Bachner noted that Florida allows law enforcement or other individuals to arrest someone they know is subject to a criminal charge — meaning the governor does not have to be involved.

Bachner, who now works as a criminal defense attorney, was also skeptical that an extradition would be necessary — Trump has not signaled he will resist arrest — and said it is “politically expedient” for DeSantis to say he won’t assist with one.

The Florida governor is expected to announce a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination soon, a decision that would put him in direct competition with Trump. That, however, has not stopped DeSantis from criticizing and attempting to discredit investigations into Trump.

DeSantis said this month that he wouldn’t be “involved” in the case, accusing Bragg of political motivations but also taking an apparent jab at Trump by emphasizing the lurid nature of the accusations against him.

“Look, I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair — I just, I can’t speak to that,” DeSantis said when asked about a possible indictment at a news conference.

That enraged Trump and his allies, who have been attacking DeSantis for months in the expectation that he will challenge Trump for the GOP nomination. DeSantis has largely ignored the swipes, opting to draw subtler contrasts with Trump, so his pointed comments about “hush money to a porn star” stuck out.

The relentless insults and Trump’s growing lead over DeSantis in national 2024 polling have led some close allies of the Florida governor to recalibrate their expectations and prepare for a tougher fight than they once anticipated.

In his tweet Thursday, DeSantis also falsely accused Bragg of “consistently [bending] the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct” and of being funded by left-wing philanthropist George Soros. Soros is a frequent target of baseless right-wing accusations rooted in antisemitism.

Bragg, DeSantis claimed, “is stretching the law to target a political opponent.”

DeSantis was speaking at a book tour event in Smyrna, Ga., when reports of Trump’s indictment broke. The governor did not address the news then, according to a person present.

Isaac Arnsdorf contributed to this report.