Trump says he’ll be arrested Tuesday, urges supporters to protest
Former President Trump on Saturday claimed that his arrest was 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 him.
Even as a Trump lawyer and spokesperson said there had been no communication from prosecutors, Trump declared in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, that he expects to be taken into custody Tuesday.
His message seemed designed to preempt a formal announcement from prosecutors and to galvanize outrage from his base of supporters in advance of anticipated charges. Within hours, he sent a fundraising email to supporters while influential Republicans in Congress issued statements in his defense.
In a later post that went beyond exhorting loyalists to protest his legal peril, the 2024 presidential candidate directed his overarching ire in capital letters at the Biden administration and raised the prospect of civil unrest: “IT’S TIME!!!” he wrote. “WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THIS ANYMORE. THEY’RE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SIT BACK & WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”
It all evoked, in foreboding ways, the rhetoric he used shortly before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. After hearing from Trump that morning at a Washington rally, his supporters marched to the Capitol and tried to stop the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory, breaking through doors and windows and leaving more than 100 officers beaten and bloodied. Five people died.
Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg is thought to be eyeing charges in the hush money investigation and recently offered Trump a 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 president.
But there has been no public announcement of any time frame for the grand jury’s secret work in the case. At least one additional witness is expected to testify, which indicates that no vote to indict has been
taken, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
That did not stop Trump from taking to social media to say “illegal leaks” from Bragg’s office indicate that “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.”
A report from a House committee’s Democrats says Donald Trump’s White House failed to report more than 100 gifts from foreign nations.
A Trump lawyer, Susan Necheles, said her client’s post was “based on the media reports.” A Trump spokesperson said there had been “no notification” from Bragg’s office, and the origin of the reference to Tuesday was unclear. The district attorney’s office declined to comment Saturday.
Trump’s aides and legal team have been preparing for a possible indictment. Should that happen, he would be arrested only if he refused to surrender. Trump’s lawyers have previously said he would follow normal procedure, meaning he would probably agree to surrender at a New York Police Department precinct or directly to Bragg’s office.
It is unclear if Trump’s supporters would heed his protest call or if he retains the same persuasive power he held as president. His social media posts on his platform generally receive far less attention than he received on Twitter, but he maintains a deeply loyal base. The aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, in which hundreds of his loyalists were arrested and prosecuted in federal court, may have dampened the passion among supporters for confrontation.
The indictment of Trump, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings.
Even as Trump pursues his 2024 bid for the White House — a rally is set for this month in Waco, Texas, and he made an appearance Saturday evening at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships in Tulsa, Okla. — there is no question an indictment would be a distraction and give fodder to opponents and critics weary of the legal scandals that have long enveloped him.
In addition to the New York inquiry over hush money, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to undo the results of the 2020 election.
A Justice Department special counsel has also been presenting evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate. It is not clear when those investigations will end or whether they might result in criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York, underscoring the gravity — and broad geographic scope — of the legal challenges confronting the former president.
Trump’s post Saturday echoes one made last summer, when he broke the news on Truth Social that the FBI was searching his Florida home as part of an investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents.
News of that search sparked a flood of contributions to Trump’s political operation. On Saturday, Trump sent a series of fundraising emails to supporters, including one that claimed, “I’m not worried in the slightest.”
After his post, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) decried any plans to prosecute Trump as an “outrageous abuse of power by a radical D.A.” pursuing “political vengeance.” Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the third-ranking House Republican, issued a statement with a similar sentiment.
The grand jury has been hearing from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer 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, says he did nothing wrong and has cast the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging his 2024 campaign. Trump also has labeled Bragg, who is Black, a “racist” and has accused the prosecutor of letting crime in New York run amok while he has focused on Trump.
New York remains one of the country’s safest cities.
Bragg’s office has apparently been examining whether state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.
Porn actor Stormy Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — onetime political advisor Kellyanne Conway and former spokesperson 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 payouts were to buy their silence about Trump, who at the time was in the thick of his first presidential campaign.
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer says the porn actor has met with prosecutors who are investigating hush money paid to Daniels on Trump’s behalf.
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 supposed expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which kept her story from coming to light.
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, unrecorded gifts to Trump’s election
Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors never charged Trump with a crime.
Reports that law enforcement agencies were preparing for a possible indictment were first made by NBC News.
Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.
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