Johnson backs bill to allow presidents to push state cases to federal court

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is endorsing a bill that would allow presidents to move any state-level prosecutions or civil suits in which they are named to federal court, potentially clearing the way for their dismissal or pardon.

The legislation from Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.) would allow both sitting and former presidents and vice presidents to bump such cases to the federal court system.

Federal prosecutors could then choose to drop the state-level case. Should a former president get convicted, it would clear the way for the sitting president to issue a pardon. Presidents have no power to pardon state-level convictions.

“We’re trying to preserve the integrity of the justice system, and we’ve seen some of these local and state prosecutors have used that system,” Johnson said.

“I think that’s an idea that makes sense,” he added, calling it a way to “address the two-tiered system of justice in this country.”

The legislation is a clear response to former President Trump’s conviction by a New York jury on state-level charges relating to falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments made to an adult film star ahead of the 2016 election.

While Trump allies have complained about the prosecutor and judge on the case, a jury unanimously backed all 34 counts connected to the case.

Trump tried to remove his New York case to federal court, losing at the federal district level and later abandoning his appeal.

He opted not to try and do so with his election interference case in Georgia.

However, Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, did try to remove his Georgia election interference case. While he lost the bid to do so in two lower courts, he is now working to get the Supreme Court to review the matter.

Mychael Schnell and Zach Schonfeld contributed.

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