Trump says he expects to be arrested and calls for protests

Donald Trump said Saturday that his arrest is imminent and issued an extraordinary call for his supporters to protest as a New York grand jury investigates hush money payments to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president.

Even as Trump’s lawyer and spokesman said there had been no communication from prosecutors, Trump stated in a post on his social media platform that he expects to be detained Tuesday.

His message seemed designed to preempt a formal announcement from prosecutors and to fuel outrage from his fan base ahead of the widely anticipated charges. Within hours, his campaign was sending out fundraising requests to his supporters, while influential Republicans in Congress and even some outspoken candidates and potential rivals were issuing statements in his defense.

In a subsequent post that went beyond simply urging loyalists to protest his legal peril, the 2024 presidential candidate directed his all-encompassing anger in all capital letters at the Biden administration and raised the possibility of civil unrest: “!!! IT’S TIME!!!” he wrote. “WE CAN NO LONGER ALLOW THIS. THEY ARE KILLING OUR NATION WHILE WE SIT AND WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”

It all evoked, ominously, the rhetoric he used shortly before the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. After hearing the then-president at a rally in Washington that morning, his supporters marched toward the Capitol and attempted to stop Congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory, smashing doors and windows in the building and leaving officers battered and bloodied.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg is believed to be considering charges in the hush money investigation and recently offered Trump the chance to testify before the grand jury. Local law enforcement officials are bracing for the public safety ramifications of an unprecedented prosecution of a former US president.

In an internal email after Trump’s remarks, Bragg said law enforcement would ensure that the 1,600 people who work in his office remain safe and that “any specific or credible threat” would be investigated.

“We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” he wrote, adding: “In the meantime, as with all of our investigations, we will continue to apply the law fairly and fairly. and speak publicly only when appropriate.”

There has been no public announcement of any time frame for the secret grand jury’s work on the case. At least one additional witness is expected to testify, further indicating that no vote has yet been taken to indict, 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 taking to his social media platform to say that “illegal leaks” from Bragg’s office indicate that “THE LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WILL BE ARRESTED TUESDAY NEXT WEEK. ”

An attorney for Trump, Susan Necheles, said Trump’s post was “based on media reports,” and a spokesperson said there was “no notification” from Bragg’s office, though the source of Trump’s reference was Tuesday was not clear. The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Trump’s aides and legal team have been preparing for the possibility of an impeachment. If that happened, he would be arrested only if he refused to turn himself in. Trump’s lawyers previously said he would follow normal procedure, meaning he would likely agree to turn himself in at a New York Police Department compound or directly to Bragg’s office.

It’s unclear whether Trump supporters would heed his call to protest or whether he retains the same persuasive power he had as president. Trump’s posts on Truth Social generally get far less attention than he used to get on Twitter, but he maintains a deeply loyal base. The aftermath of the January 6 riots, in which hundreds of Trump loyalists were arrested and prosecuted in federal court, may also have dampened supporters’ passion for confrontation.

The impeachment of the 76-year-old Trump would be an extraordinary breakthrough after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings.

Even as Trump continues his latest White House campaign: His first rally is scheduled for Waco, Texas, later this month and he shook hands and took selfies with fans during a public appearance Saturday night at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. there is no doubt that an indictment would be a distraction and feed opponents and critics tired of the legal scandals that have long engulfed him.

In addition to the secret money investigation in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to undo the 2020 election results.

A special counsel for the Department of Justice has also been presenting evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida property. It’s unclear when those investigations will end or if they could result in criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York, underscoring the current severity — and broad geographic scope — of the legal challenges facing the former president.

Trump’s post Saturday echoes one he made last summer when he broke the story on Truth Social that the FBI was searching his Florida home as part of an investigation into possible mishandling of classified documents.

News of that search sparked a flurry of contributions to Trump’s political operation, and on Saturday, Trump sent a series of fundraising emails to his supporters, including one that read: “I’m not in the least bit concerned.” .

Following its publication, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, denounced any plans to impeach Trump as an “outrageous abuse of power by a radical district attorney” who he said was seeking “revenge.” policy”. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-place House Republican, issued a statement with similar sentiment.

The grand jury has been hearing witnesses, including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier.

Trump denies the encounters occurred, says he did nothing wrong and has portrayed the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the 2024 Republican campaign. Trump also called Bragg, who is black, as “racist” and accused the prosecutor of allowing crime in the city to get out of control while he focused on Trump. New York remains one of the safest cities in the country.

Bragg’s office has apparently been examining whether state laws were violated regarding the payments or the way Cohen was compensated by Trump’s company for his work to keep the women’s allegations secret.

Porn actor Stormy Daniels and at least two former Trump aides, former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks, are among witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.

Cohen has said that at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy his silence about Trump, who was in the midst of his first presidential campaign.

Cohen and federal prosecutors said Trump’s company paid him $420,000 as reimbursement for the $130,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-editor of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid, preventing the story of him from getting out.

Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s corporate parent in exchange for its cooperation in a campaign finance investigation that led to charges against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougal amounted to impermissible gifts and were not registered for the Trump election effort.

Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time, and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crimes.

NBC News first reported that law enforcement agencies were preparing for a potential indictment.

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