Former President Donald Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday in connection with an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and called on his supporters to protest, even as it remained uncertain whether any legal action would indeed be imminent.
Trump advisers made it clear on Tuesday that they had no specific knowledge of the timing of any possible indictment, even as the former president made the comments on the social network he founded, Truth Social.
Trump is under investigation for a $130,000 payment he made before the 2016 election to keep adult movie star Stormy Daniels quiet about a past affair. The former president has denied wrongdoing, and federal investigators ended their own investigation into the payments in 2019.
An indictment against Trump would send the US political world into unprecedented territory – not only the first indictment against a former president, but also someone who is about to run for the White House again. And his calls for protest also echoed similar statements made by the former president on the eve of January 6.
Danielle Filson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, declined to comment on the former president’s statement.
But the testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohenwho arranged the payment and has already been convicted and served time in prison, may help bring the first-ever charges against the former president.
incl Social truth On Saturday, Trump called on his supporters to “Protest, take back our nation!”
“The leading Republican candidate and former President of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday next week,” he wrote in capital letters.
A Trump spokesman, speaking on background, told USA TODAY that there had been “no word” of a possible Trump indictment other than media reports and “leaks from the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office.”
The New York attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
Manhattan prosecutors on Wednesday met with Daniels. She thanked the lawyer in a tweet for “helping me in our ongoing struggle for truth and justice.”
Lawrence Tribe, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, said Trump’s impeachment in New York is uncharted waters.
“There’s really no precedent for indicting a former president,” Tribe said. “It’s still anyone’s guess what will happen.”
Experts consider Trump’s arrest unlikely
Trump says he will run for president again if he is charged in any of the ongoing investigations into his conduct. His first rally in the 2024 presidential race is scheduled for March 25 in Waco, Texas.
An indictment is not the same as an arrest; it is a formal charge of a crime, and an arrest is when a person is taken into custody. Trump’s arrest is unlikely, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said.
“Usually the accused are not arrested in such cases if they are represented by a lawyer,” he said.
Barbara McQuaid, a former federal prosecutor and University of Michigan law professor, said self-surrender is more likely in cases like Trump’s.
“Unless he’s a flight risk or a danger to the community, surrender seems typical in that case,” she said. “He will be detained, fingerprinted and photographed, and then most likely released on bail.”
Tribe said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is likely to offer Trump a more anonymous way to turn himself in, though the former president is unlikely to accept such avenues.
“I’m sure he wishes there was an escalator he could go down to surrender,” he said. “It’s his standard technique to turn everything into a publicity stunt, and they’re sure to raise a lot of money around his self-surrender.”
Trump’s call for protests is worrisome
While Trump’s spokesman acknowledged there had been “no word” related to the timing of possible criminal charges, the former president’s call for protests raised concerns among law enforcement agencies involved in the preparation of such an event.
The call for demonstrations, one official familiar with the arrangements said, could immediately require increased security in New York and more agents assigned to monitor the former president’s movements.
The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter, also was not aware of a final timeline for any possible announcement by prosecutors.
Cohen, a former Trump lawyer who testified against him, said Trump’s call to action for his supporters echoes the call for an attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“The Donald’s message is eerily similar to his rallying cry on January 6; including a call to protest,” Cohen told USA TODAY. “In this way, Donald hopes to enrage his base, witness another violent confrontation on his behalf, and profit from it by soliciting donations.”
With Trump facing possible criminal charges, W. Ralph Basham, the former director of the Secret Service, said the prospect raises unprecedented questions about the Secret Service and the limits of the agency’s commitment to provide lifelong protection to the former president. Basham, who served in the George W. Bush administration, said he was not aware of any provision that would have allowed the agency to waive its protection obligations even if a client had been sentenced to prison. “We’re in uncharted territory here,” Basham said. “I’m sure lawyers are trying to find answers to these questions.”
“I don’t know … what would prevent them (Secret Service agents) from escorting the former president to a detention center if he were convicted and sentenced to prison,” Basham said, adding that the agency would consider “establishing a stay” in that case. temporary maintenance for the duration of the sentence. “I just don’t know,” he said. “The lawyers will have to sort that out.”
Trump is treated “like an ordinary citizen”
While Trump’s upcoming indictment will be historic, perhaps even more important is that the justice system is working as it should, Tribe said.
“He is treated as he should be, as an ordinary citizen,” he said. “Getting your fingerprints on a photo, standing in front of a judge and saying, ‘Do you plead guilty or not guilty?’
“The same thing happens with other ordinary citizens,” he continued.
Contributed by: Kevin Johnson, David Jackson