While the world awaits the official unsealing of a pending indictment against former President Donald Trump, a pair of legal experts weighed in on the case during Scripps News’ “Morning Rush” on Friday.
Veteran Palm Beach County prosecutor Dave Aronberg said that he thinks federal prosecutors would have preferred to have the case held in Washington, D.C., but pressing charges in South Florida ultimately makes more sense.
“The reason why it’s in South Florida is because prosecutors have to bring the case in the area where the crime allegedly occurred,” he said.
The Department of Justice said it took classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach County during the execution of a search warrant.
Aronberg believes Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to handle the case, would get a more favorable jury pool in Washington, D.C., given that just 5% of voters there voted for Trump in 2020. But holding the trial there could have been a major risk for the prosecution.
“Prosecutors don’t want to lose this case based on a venue challenge,” Aronberg said. “And then there’s also the political side. Jack Smith wants to do this in a red state in Trump’s home community to let it be known, this is not political; this is about evidence, the law, and the rule of law.”
Although nearly everyone has heard of Trump and many people might be aware of the case, Aronberg believes it is possible to find a fair jury.
“As long as they can put their biases aside and just follow the evidence and the law, they can be jurors,” he said. “And that’s why you’re able to find jurors in any high-profile case. It’s not that you’re looking for a blank slate; you just look at people who can be fair, who can be unbiased and make their judgment based on the evidence and the law. I think it can be done.”
Michael Scotto, a former prosecutor within the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, said it’s unknown exactly how much information the indictment will reveal once it is unsealed.
“Generally speaking, the indictments in federal court are just the statute the defendant committed it on this day; there’s not a lot of detail,” he said. “I think the country needs to know what he’s being charged with. And so then we can get rid of some of these theories out there and political prosecution, witch hunt, whatnot.”