After his historic third indictment charge last week, Trump appeared in Washington DC's E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse on Thursday, where he entered a plea of not guilty on all four criminal charges relating to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election result. Among the many reasons that the occasion was significant, the arraignment marked one of a handful of times the former president has returned to DC since leaving office in January 2021.
It is not surprising that Trump has largely avoided DC. In 2020, over 92 per cent of the electorate voted for Joe Biden. It is exactly that ‘unfriendliness’ towards the former president that now forms a cornerstone of the Trump legal team’s argument that a DC jury could not possibly facilitate a fair or ‘legitimate’ trial, and hopes for the case to be moved to an “impartial venue such as the politically unbiased nearby state of West Virginia” — as Trump wrote on Truth Social — which he won by nearly 40 points in 2020. Similar arguments were made by several January 6 defendants to no avail.
The Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees the right of criminal defendants to a fair public trial, and jurors have a responsibility to be impartial, free from biases and conflicts of interest. But the suggestion from Trump’s legal team to move the case to a more Trump-friendly county got me thinking — in which district court would Trump have the most sympathetic* jury? (*Assuming sympathy would be indicated through voter support).
Trump’s uphill battle with the courts next year will see him face at least three criminal trials, with an additional fourth case being weighed by the Fulton County District Attorney in relation to alleged racketeering activity in Georgia around the 2020 election. Of the four potential cases, the trial of the now 40 felony charges relating to the mishandling of classified documents, which is being prosecuted in Miami, Florida, offers the county with the most Trump-friendly jury pool, having the highest percentage of Trump voters in 2020.
The DC-based January 6-related indictment certainly appears the most unfriendly, with Trump capturing only 5.4 per cent of the vote in 2020. Perhaps, if Trump were looking to move that trial to a super-friendly pool for jury selection, better than West Virginia is Roberts County, Texas where Trump carried over 96 per cent of the vote in 2020 and won with the largest margins in both 2016 and 2020.
This commentary was originally featured in the weekly edition of the 46th newsletter