Donald Trump said on Saturday that his arrest was imminent and issued an unusual call for his supporters to protest as a New York grand jury investigates women who say they had sex with the former president.
Although Manhattan prosecutors have not given him or his lawyers any formal notice, Trump said in a post on his social media platform that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday. The message appears to be designed to avoid a formal statement from prosecutors and inflame his support base ahead of the expected indictments. Within hours, he sent a remittance to supporters, and influential Republicans in Congress issued statements in his defense.
In a later post that went beyond simply calling on loyalists to protest his legal threat, the 2024 presidential candidate directed his all-caps outrage at the Biden administration and raised the prospect of civil unrest: “It’s time!!!” he wrote. “We just can’t afford it anymore.” They are killing our nation while we sit back and watch. We must save America! Protest, protest, protest!!!”
All of this led, in a premeditated way, to the rhetoric he used shortly before the January 6, 2021 riot on the US Capitol. After listening to the then-president at a rally in Washington that morning, his supporters marched to the Capitol and tried. Stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the White House, smashing the building’s windows and doors and leaving officers battered and bloody.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg is believed to have been keeping an eye on the allegations during the hush money investigation and recently suggested Trump testify before a grand jury. Local law enforcement agencies are bracing for the public safety implications of the unprecedented prosecution of a former US president.
But there has been no public announcement of any timeline for the grand jury’s undercover work on the case. At least one additional witness is expected to testify, further indicating that the prosecution has yet to vote, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
That didn’t stop Trump from saying on his social media platform that “illegal leaks” from Bragg’s office indicated that “far and away the leading Republican candidate and former President of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday.” “
A spokeswoman and attorney for Trump said his Truth Social post was based on media reports — though they didn’t say which ones — and not any actual updates or communications from prosecutors. The district attorney’s office declined to comment Saturday.
If Trump is indicted, he will only be jailed if he refuses to surrender. Trump’s lawyers previously said he would follow the normal procedure, meaning he would likely agree to surrender to the New York Police Department or directly to Bragg’s office.
It is unclear whether Trump’s supporters will heed his protest appeal, or whether he will retain the same persuasive power he had as president. Trump’s posts on Truth Social generally receive far less attention than they once received on Twitter, but he maintains a deeply loyal base. The fallout from the Jan. 6 riots, in which hundreds of Trump loyalists were arrested and charged in federal court, may have also dampened supporters’ passion for confrontation.
Indicting Trump, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings.
As Trump continues his latest campaign for the White House — his first rally is scheduled in Waco, Texas, later this month and he was scheduled to make a public appearance Saturday night at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma — there are no doubts. The indictment would be a distraction and provide fodder for opponents and critics tired of the legal scandals that have long dogged him.
In addition to the money probe in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington for trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
A Justice Department special prosecutor will also present evidence to a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate. It’s unclear when those investigations will end or whether they could lead to criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York, underscoring the ongoing gravity — and broad geographic scope — of the legal challenges facing the former president.
Trump’s post Saturday echoes last summer, when he revealed on Truth Social that the FBI was searching his Florida home as part of an investigation into the possible misuse of classified documents.
News of the search prompted an outpouring of contributions to Trump’s political operation, and on Saturday Trump sent a cash letter to his supporters saying “MANHATTAN DA MAY BE CLOSE TO TUMPING TRUMP.”
After his post, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dismissed any plan to prosecute Trump as an “outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA” who he said was seeking “political revenge.” Elis Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican parliamentarian of the House, issued a similar statement.
The grand jury heard from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he arranged payments to two women in 2016 to keep them quiet about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump denies the clashes, says he did nothing wrong and calls the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican 2024 campaign. Trump also called Bragg, who is black, a “racist” and accused the prosecutor of screwing up crime in the city while he focuses on Trump. New York remains one of the safest cities in the country.
Bragg’s office appears to be looking into whether state laws were violated regarding the payments or how Trump’s company paid Cohen for his work to silence the women’s allegations.
Porn actress Stormy Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — onetime political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks — are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen said that at Trump’s behest, he arranged payments of $280,000 to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougall. According to Cohen, the payoff was to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said Trump’s company paid him $420,000 as compensation for paying Daniels $130,000 and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The Company has internally classified these payments as legal expenses. McDougal was paid $150,000 by the then-publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer to prevent his story from being published.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s corporate parent in exchange for his cooperation in the campaign finance investigation that led to the indictment of Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougall were impermissible, unrecorded gifts to Trump’s campaign.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served time in prison and was released. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crime.
News that law enforcement agencies are preparing for possible charges was first reported by NBC News.
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