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House GOP leaders whip bill to counter state charges against Trump

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House Republican leaders are privately gauging support for legislation that would let both current and former presidents move a state case to federal courts, four Republicans familiar with the effort confirmed to POLITICO. It already seems dead in the water.

Republicans have vowed to use their slim majority to avenge former President Donald Trump after he was convicted on 34 felony counts in a Manhattan hush money trial last week. Since that was a conviction on state charges, Trump could not pardon himself even if he’s elected president. But Trump is also facing charges in Georgia, which the legislation would allow him to move to federal court.

But it’s not clear if the bill — spearheaded by Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.) — has the votes needed to clear the House, according to three of the people, who all spoke on condition of anonymity. And even if it could pass that chamber, it’s almost certainly dead in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“I’ve heard a lot of folks are reaching out to leadership and saying they will vote no,” said one battleground Republican, granted anonymity to discuss the internal conversations. “I don’t believe they have the votes to pass it.”

As another centrist Republican viewed it: “I think there’s a lack of support for it” and that they are making sure leadership is aware. “I heard a bunch of folks have said they’re reluctant.”

If leaders do feel it has enough support in their two-seat margin — a big if, at this point — it could come to the House floor as soon as next week. A schedule for next week, released by Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) office, didn’t mention the bill, though it noted that other legislative items are possible.

Fry’s bill gives a current or former president or vice president the ability to move civil or criminal state cases to a federal court. It passed the Judiciary Committee last year but has stalled since then. Conservatives, however, started building public pressure on leaders after Trump’s conviction to move toward a floor vote.

Axios first reported the ongoing whip effort.

During a closed-door GOP conference meeting earlier this week, Johnson laid out a three-pronged plan for how Republicans would use their majority to go after Trump’s prosecutors, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the hush money case against Trump.

In addition to legislation like Fry’s, Republicans are also expected to use an upcoming government funding fight and ongoing investigations to target Trump’s prosecutors.