Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren is speaking out following his suspension by Gov. Ron DeSantis, calling it a “blatant abuse of power.”
In speaking with media Friday morning, Warren said he was “blindsided” by the announcement. He said he was escorted out of his office by an armed Sheriff’s Deputy with no warning.
“Unfortunately, yesterday an armed deputy escorted me out of my office with no warning, not even a chance to read the order,” he said. “This was something that wasn’t planned. So, right now, my concern over the past 24 hours has been making sure that the office continues doing the work that we’ve been doing for the past five and a half years.”
DeSantis announced the suspension of the 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Thursday morning, replacing the progressive prosecutor with Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez, who was sworn in following the announcement. In announcing Warren’s suspension, the Governor claimed Warren refused to enforce the law — specifically, he cited Warren’s refusal to enforce bans on abortion and gender-affirming surgery.
“Let’s be clear — this is not about what I’ve done. This is about what I’ve said,” Warren said. “This is Orwellian thought police. I’m being punished for not enforcing a law that doesn’t even exist.”
Warren recently pledged he would not enforce Florida’s new law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which prompted the Governor’s decision. Warren said he has yet to have a case brought to him on either matter cited by the Governor.
“This has nothing to do with a job I’ve done as the State Attorney. This is about the Governor wanting to run for President,” he said. “This is a very dangerous precedent that the Governor has set, he could do this to any elected official who says something that he doesn’t like. And that’s not democracy. That is not America.”
Warren responded to the Governor’s decision Thursday afternoon after a press conference on a cold case recently solved by his office. The timing, he said, was deliberate.
“I do think that it was planned,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate that the Governor’s political sideshow potentially took crime as a casualty. Our ability to prosecute two people for a 39-year-old cold case and to give the victims who have been waiting for that day to come for so long — to jeopardize that so that the Governor could pull this political stunt is just unconscionable.”
Warren, who was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020, has pushed for justice reform throughout his tenure. While his progressive approach has earned praise from some, DeSantis has criticized Warren’s use of power.
In the coming days, Warren said he plans to explore legal options.
“This political stunt should scare anyone who believes in our democracy. It’s a blatant abuse of power, it’s a flagrant violation of the most fundamental American value — that people elect their leaders,” Warren said. “To be clear, I’m going to fight this. We’re going to fight for democracy. We’re going to fight for American values.”
Warren also spoke to an outpouring of support from Democratic lawmakers.
“I’ve heard from too many people (to) count. The outpouring of support has been tremendous, and humbling,” he said. “People were outraged. People are terrified that this is happening. People are shocked that they woke up in America and saw the Governor strip someone who’s been elected twice. I mean, let’s be clear — this is about overthrowing results in a fair and free election.”