Lawsuit in Trump documents points to possible Florida case

By Karen Freifeld and Jacqueline Thomsen

(Reuters) – U.S. courthouse activity in Miami suggests federal prosecutors may bring criminal charges against former President Donald Trump in his home state of Florida, rather than in Washington.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has convened grand juries in both locations to hear evidence in his investigation into whether the former president mishandled classified information after leaving the White House in January 2021.

Taylor Budowich, a former spokesman for Trump, said Wednesday that he appeared before the grand jury in Miami. Media reported seeing prosecutors working on the investigation at the Florida courthouse.

Legal experts have questioned whether the charges at issue should be filed in Florida, as the alleged crimes took place in Palm Beach at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

A spokesperson for Smith’s office declined to comment. A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Federal prosecutors have informed Trump’s attorneys that he is the target of the investigation, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Experts say the US Justice Department may choose to take a case to Florida to avoid a drawn-out legal challenge by Trump’s team to the proper venue. Under federal law, defendants have the right to be charged where the activity in question took place.

Smith could indict Trump in Florida and indict others in Washington, especially if they cooperate and waive the venue issue.

Bringing the case to Florida would deprive Trump’s team of the argument that prosecutors were holding the trial on politically hostile ground. Florida voted for Republican Trump in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, while Washington is overwhelmingly Democratic.

But the strength of the evidence may outweigh any concerns about the panel of jurors, said Michael Bromwich, a former federal prosecutor in Washington.

“Smith and his team are building a pretty overwhelming case, so even with a less favorable group of jurors, they probably have a high level of confidence that they can prove it to virtually any jury.” he declared.

The choice of location may hinge on whether Trump is ultimately charged with obstruction of justice, which would point to a prosecution in Florida, or a larger conspiracy that includes taking the White House documents, the official said. Washington lawyer William Taylor III.

“If they define the plot more broadly, there’s no doubt they can bring it to DC,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)

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