What we know: Could indictment in Mar-a-Lago documents case be filed in Florida?

South Florida would logically become a relevant location since the FBI seized and retrieved documents from the former president's Palm Beach private club and residence, Mar-a-Lago, last August.

Antonio Fins
Palm Beach Post

A first-time ever indictment of a former president on federal charges could play out in South Florida.

On Monday, NBC News reported that a grand jury in Florida is scheduled to hear evidence presented by special counsel Jack Smith in the case involving allegations that former President Donald Trump wrongly possessed classified and other government documents.

Other news organizations have previously reported that Smith, who U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland tasked with handling the investigation last fall, has been presenting evidence to a grand jury in Washington, D.C. In fact, on Tuesday, Trump aide Taylor Budowich was said to be testifying at the federal courthouse in Miami.

The revelation of a grand jury in Trump's home state wasn't the only eyebrow-raising news story this week.

CNN reported that a Mar-a-Lago employee flooded a room in which surveillance video logs were stored on computer servers when draining the club’s swimming pool last October. And Trump's legal team met with the special counsel on Monday, raising expectations that decisions on the case are soon to be made public.

Legal and constitutional scholars have said the emergence of a Florida grand jury could be prompted by the U.S. Constitution's Sixth Amendment, which guarantees those accused of a crime will face an "impartial jury consisting of jurors from the state and district in which the crime was alleged to have been committed."

South Florida would logically become a relevant location since the FBI seized and retrieved documents from the former president's Palm Beach private club and residence, Mar-a-Lago, last August.

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But Kevin Wagner, a constitutional scholar and chair of the Department of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University, said it's not so simple.

"Generally speaking, you bring the criminal action where the crime occurred. That is true, but sometimes crimes can be complex, so they can have more than one location, if that makes sense," he said. "To some degree, it's going to depend on what the charges are and where those charges are alleged to have happened."

And Wagner cautioned against too much speculation, given the many unknowns in this investigation.

"It seems logical to bring the case here based on what we know, but the truth is that we don't know a lot about what they are alleging," he said.

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Trump insists he did nothing wrong in social media posts

Trump was indicted, and arraigned, in New York in April on 34 felonies related to an alleged hush-money payment to a porn star in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

But that was a state case. The documents issue is federal.

Trump nonetheless adamantly asserted his innocence in a posting on his Truth Social platform on Monday, saying in capital letters that he "did nothing wrong." He followed that missive with four more posts on Tuesday in which he said the goal of the investigations is "election interference."

"They don't want to run against me," he wrote, noting that in 2020 he received "millions more votes" than in 2016.

He also added: "They are also going after me as RETRIBUTION for Republicans in Congress going after them. The difference is, they have created major crimes, I have created none!"

However, the key investigations of the former president all pre-dated the current congressional probes being spearheaded by Republican lawmakers, many of whom are Trump allies, in the current Congress.

Antonio Fins is a politics and business editor at the Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at afins@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.