(CBrief) – Former President Donald Trump handily won the state of Florida in 2020. Now, that could work to his advantage when it comes to his federal trial for allegedly mishandling classified documents.
U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon ruled last week that Trump will stand trial on May 20, 2024, on charges that he mishandled classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Politico reported.
A new report details how the jury pool will come primarily from counties that Trump handily won in the 2016 and 2020 elections, which could work to his advantage.
Additionally, the federal judge hearing the case is Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed. The judge has signaled that the trial would take place in Fort Pierce, the federal courthouse where she usually sits, at the northern end of the Southern District of Florida.
“That decision means Trump’s jurors are set to be drawn from the most brightly red corner of a vast court district, plucked from a community that leans heavily Republican—instead of the highly populous and more Democratic urban areas further south. Cannon, the Trump-nominated judge who court officials said was selected at random to hear the case, is the only one of the Southern District of Florida’s 26 active judges assigned in Fort Pierce,” The Daily Beast reported.
“If her palm tree-lined courthouse in that city is the site of what may be the most politically significant trial in American history, the proceedings will take place 70 miles north of the oceanside mansion where Trump amassed sensitive national security documents without permission—even though the West Palm Beach federal courthouse is down the street,” the outlet added.
“You drive around, and you’ll see ‘Trump’ flags and ‘Make America Great Again’ flying in front of houses,” said Paul Bernard, a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Pierce. “With Trump’s trial down this way, he’s going to have a bunch of supporters—and they’re going to make their way onto the jury panel.”
The Daily Beast report continued: “It’s solidly MAGA country: all five counties voted heavily in favor of Trump in the 2020 election he ultimately lost, with Okeechobee topping out at 72 percent. Across the board, the former president nabbed 62 percent of the vote on average. In increasingly Republican South Florida, Trump already had a good shot at landing a favorable jury. Although Miami-Dade County still leans blue, it has swung heavily toward the GOP, and right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys have permeated official party organizations there. Even Democratic strongholds like Broward and Palm Beach counties have become redder in the Trump years.”
“Overall, the jurors in these five counties are going to be more conservative than your Palm Beach or Dade jurors. And South Florida used to be very blue, but it’s not as blue as it used to be. Things have changed in the past five, ten years. Generally, we’re going to be pretty conservative in this area,” he said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz offered up legislation last week that, if passed, would defund the investigations into Trump being conducted by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Gaetz said there is a reasonable intention behind his measure, and that is to let American voters know where their representatives — particularly GOP lawmakers — stand on the issue.
“Rep. Gaetz’s bill would block federal funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or any funds in any trust fund of the federal government from being used for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office and investigation,” Gaetz’s office noted in a statement.
“On July 18th, 2023, President Donald J. Trump released a statement indicating he is the target of the investigation by Special Counsel Smith related to January 6th. This indicates Special Counsel Smith’s office has engaged in election interference by using his investigation to go after President Trump, who public polling has indicated is the leading contender in the 2024 Republican primary for president,” the statement continued.
“In addition, his office has lacked transparency, failing to answer correspondence from my office to produce specific documents related to his staff and the investigation,” the statement added.
“The government is being weaponized to go after President Donald J. Trump. The House of Representatives must defund Jack Smith’s office and end the witch hunt,” said Gaetz. “The power of the purse is not some intermittent thing that we wield every fiscal cycle.
“It’s something that we have to wield day in and day out to achieve victory for our people and to stop this. I’m under no illusion that the Democrats will bring such legislation up in the Senate, but the American people deserve to know where members of Congress stand,” he said.