Trump calls for protests over expected arrest on New York charges
Published in News & Features
Former President Donald Trump said he expected to be arrested next week on New York charges and, echoing his rhetoric before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, called for protesters to “take our nation back.”
Trump said in a Saturday morning all-caps post on his Truth Social platform that, based on unspecified leaks, he expected to be arrested on Tuesday in a case being pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
“Protest, take our nation back,” Trump concluded his post. He repeated his call for protests in a second Truth Social post Saturday afternoon. “It’s time!!!” he wrote.
Trump has not received any official notification of charges or arrest plans by Bragg’s office and will be in Texas next weekend for a campaign rally, a spokesman for the former president said in a statement issued later on Saturday. A spokeswoman for the district attorney declined to comment.
Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Trump, said on Saturday that the former president was responding to news reports that New York and federal law enforcement would be meeting early next week to discuss security precautions around a possible indictment.
Those reports did not say Trump would be arrested Tuesday, and it’s unclear where the former president got that date.
Bragg has been conducting a grand jury investigation into a hush-money payment Trump allegedly made to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public before the 2016 election about a claimed decade-old sexual encounter. Charges in the case are widely expected, but no indictment has been announced.
The former president has denied the allegations and slammed the probe as politically motivated, doing so again in his Saturday morning post.
Trump’s calls for protest Saturday were reminiscent of his comments leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when a joint session of Congress met to ratify his 2020 election defeat by President Joe Biden.
Reminiscent of Jan. 6
Dozens of police officers were injured as Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol and members fled or cowered for safety before returning later to finish the counting of Electoral College votes. In testimony to the House panel investigating the insurrection, one officer likened the scene to a medieval battlefield. The committee delivered a scathing report that blamed Trump for inciting violence to try and hold onto power.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday called Trump’s comments “reckless” and said he was trying “to keep himself in the news and to foment unrest among his supporters.”
But Republicans now control the House, and Pelosi’s successor, Kevin McCarthy, was quick to side with Trump. McCarthy vowed on Twitter to investigate whether any federal funds were being used “to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.” Trump has declared that he’s seeking reelection to the presidency in 2024.
Other Republicans also backed Trump’s position that Bragg’s investigation was political in nature. Former Vice President Mike Pence, appearing on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday, told host Matt Boyle he was “taken aback” by the idea that Trump might be arrested and said it “reeks” of politics. Pence, who’s weighing a 2024 White House bid himself, last weekend called Trump’s Jan. 6 language “reckless” and said that history would hold the former president accountable.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, one of the first three candidates to formally challenge Trump for the GOP nomination, also both issued Saturday statements backing his claim that any prosecution would be politically motivated.
New York and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service and FBI, were invited to meet early next week to plan security in the event Trump is charged by Bragg, according to a person familiar with the matter. Among the topics to be discussed was the possibility of both pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators converging outside the Lower Manhattan courthouse.
The person, who requested anonymity because the discussions weren’t public, stressed that the planning was precautionary and shouldn’t be taken as an indication that Trump will be charged.
Joseph Tacopina, a lawyer for Trump, said Friday that the former president would surrender peacefully if charged by Bragg. “There won’t be a standoff,” Tacopina said. The lawyer declined to comment on Saturday.
Along with possible protests, the law enforcement agencies plan to discuss other novel issues involved with charging a former president, the person said, including whether or not to handcuff Trump and if the Secret Service would maintain custody over him during court proceedings.
Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen completed his testimony before the grand jury on Wednesday. Cohen would be a crucial witness for prosecutors.
He pleaded guilty to federal fraud and campaign finance charges in 2018, admitting that he arranged illegal hush-money payments to Daniels. Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 and was reimbursed. He showed a congressional committee a check for the amount signed by Trump.
The New York case is building steam as Trump is kicking his comeback bid for the White House into high gear. He visited Iowa last Monday and with his first formal campaign rally on Saturday. Aboard his plane during the Iowa trip, Trump denounced Cohen as a “convicted liar.”
The former president announced his 2024 bid last Nov. 15. Asked whether he’d stay in the race if indicted, Trump told reporters before a March 4 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference: “Absolutely, I wouldn’t even think about leaving.”
(With assistance from Greg Farrell, Tony Czuczka, Zoe Tillman, Mario Parker and Steven T. Dennis.)
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