Trump says he expects an arrest, calls for protests
NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump said he expects to be arrested Tuesday and urged supporters to protest while a New York grand jury investigates hush money payments made to women who allegedly had sexual encounters with the former president. However, there is no evidence that prosecutors have officially contacted him.
In a post on his social media platform Saturday morning, Trump said he expects to be taken into custody as the Manhattan District Attorney reviews charges in the investigation. Trump would be the first former president ever to be charged with a crime.
Trump’s post said “illegal leaks” from Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office indicate that “FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WILL BE ARRESTED TUESDAY NEXT WEEK.”
Should Trump be charged, he would only be arrested if he refused to surrender. Trump’s lawyers have previously said he would follow normal procedure, meaning he would likely agree to surrender at a New York City Police Department precinct or directly at Bragg’s office.
There is no evidence that prosecutors have made any formal contact to warn Trump that he will be taken into custody. A Trump spokesman said Saturday that “there had been no notification” of an imminent arrest.
Prosecutor’s Danielle Filson said prosecutors “will decline to confirm or comment on issues related to Trump’s post, as well as possible charges.” Trump’s attorneys, Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina, did not immediately respond asking for comment on Trump’s post or the timing of a possible arrest.
Trump’s call for his supporters to protest was particularly poignant, reminiscent of language the then-president used just before the Jan. 6, 2021, riots in the US Capitol.
After a rally near the White House this morning, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, breaking through doors and windows and leaving officials beaten and bloodied as they tried to stop congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election to the White House.
A statement from the Trump spokesman said Trump’s post on Truth Social was not based on a notification from prosecutors “other than illegal leaks” to the news media.
“President Trump rightly asserts his innocence and arming our injustice system,” the statement said.
The indictment of 76-year-old Trump would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal machinations. It will likely rouse critics who say Trump, already the 2024 presidential nominee, lied and cheated his way to the top, and embolden supporters who think the Republican is being unfairly targeted by a Democratic prosecutor.
In his social media post, Trump reiterated his lies that the 2020 presidential election he lost to Biden was stolen and urged his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE BACK OUR NATION!”
Law enforcement officials in New York have taken precautions against the possibility that Trump could be charged. There was no public announcement of a timeline for the grand jury’s secret work in the case, including a possible vote on whether to indict the ex-president.
Trump’s post recalls last summer when he broke the news on Truth Social that the FBI was raiding his Florida home as part of an investigation into possible misuse of classified documents.
News of that search sparked a flood of donations for Trump’s political operation, and on Saturday Trump sent a donation email to his supporters that read, “MANHATTAN DA MIGHT BE NEAR TO CHARGE TRUMP.”
The grand jury has heard witnesses, including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments to two women in 2016 to silence them about sexual encounters they had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump denies the encounters, says he did nothing wrong and has called the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor intent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 campaign.
Bragg’s office has apparently investigated whether state laws were violated in connection with the payments or how Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations private.
Porn actor Stormy Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks — are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen has said he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal at Trump’s direction. According to Cohen, the payouts were intended to buy their silence on Trump, who was then in the midst of his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said Trump’s firm paid him $420,000 in reimbursement for paying Daniels $130,000 and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The company classified these payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-editor of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, preventing her story from coming to light.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s parent company in exchange for its cooperation in a campaign finance investigation that led to indictments against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougal were improper, unregistered gifts for Trump’s campaign.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served a prison sentence, and was disfellowshipped. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with a crime.
In addition to the hush money investigation in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 election.
A special counsel for the Justice Department has also presented evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate. It’s not clear when these investigations will end or if they could lead to criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York, underscoring the ongoing severity — and wide geographic scope — of the legal challenges facing the former President is faced. ___
Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Eric Tucker in Washington and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.
Michelle L. Price and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press