I’m sitting in a hotel room in Miami, and if you had asked me where I’d be when Donald Trump was indicted by the federal government, it certainly wouldn’t have been here. As early this week, we fully expected this would happen in Washington D.C., if at all. The fact that it’s happening in Miami, and we have all so quickly had to adjust about where and why Miami is part of what has so many people out there scratching their heads not only about this historic moment, but where exactly it’s occurring and why.
We don’t know a lotabout when this shift happened. There’s been public reporting that indicated that while folks like you and me weren’t watching, this grand jury in Miami was convened last month and heard from a variety of witnesses before we were here earlier this week to track down Taylor Budowich, Trump’s former spokesperson, when he arrived with his lawyer, Stanley Woodward. Certainly no public attention was focused on this courthouse, and that may be why the Department of Justice chose Miami over other places, for example, in the Southern District of Florida.
But that sort of jumps over the predecessor question, which is: why Florida at all? And Department of Justice policy generally holds that you charge a crime where the bulk of the conduct occurs. And nowhere is that more true than where obstruction is concerned, where there’s also some case law in D.C. that would trend in that direction. And I think one other factor for Jack Smith and his team was: even though the jury pool in D.C. would have been more favorable to them, by far, and the judges on the whole are viewed as more favorable to the special counsel, you also have to weigh that against the certainty of making the right decision on venue. Because if you make the wrong decision, and either you get a conviction and it’s reversed on appeal, or the defendant moves to dismiss the indictment on the basis of erroneous venue, you can’t start over.
This post is an excerpt from Lisa's appearance on “All in With Chris Hayes” on Thursday.