Last week we learned that prosecutors in New York had spoken to Trump’s lawyers about the possibility of imminent charges connected to a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. This morning former president Trump said he will be arrested next week and he’s called for protests to “take our nation back.”
Mr. Trump made the declaration on his site, Truth Social, at 7:26. a.m. on Saturday in a post that ended with, “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
Two hours later, a spokesman issued a statement clarifying that Mr. Trump had not written his post with direct knowledge of the timing of any arrest…
Prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, have signaled that an indictment of Mr. Trump could be imminent. But they have not told Mr. Trump’s lawyers when the charges — expected to stem from a 2016 hush money payment to a porn star — would be sought or when an arrest would be made, people with knowledge of the matter said. At least one more witness is expected to testify in front of the grand jury, which could delay an indictment, the people said.
One of the people said that even if the grand jury were to vote to indict the former president on Monday, a Tuesday surrender was unlikely given the need to arrange timing, travel and other logistics.
So there’s been no formal communication about Tuesday and that date is pretty unlikely. NBC reports a spokesman clarified this while complaining about “illegal leaks” to the media.
A spokesperson for Trump later clarified in a statement that there “has been no notification, other than illegal leaks from the Justice Dept. and the DA’s office, to NBC” and other news outlets.
He’s probably referring to reports that appeared Friday night, including at NBC, saying various agencies were gearing up for an indictment:
Former President Donald Trump will surrender to face criminal charges if indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, his lawyer said Friday evening.
The lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, spoke on the heels of a report by WNBC that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are preparing security arrangements for the possibility that Trump will be indicted as early as next week.
“Will follow normal procedures if it gets to that point,” Tacopina told CNBC when asked what Trump would do if that possibility becomes reality.
CNN is reporting that Trump is escalating this situation (with the call for protests) against his advisers wishes. Of course these claims are anonymous so take it with a grain of salt.
The former president has been agitating for his team to get his base riled up and believes that an indictment would help him politically, multiple people briefed on the matter told CNN…
Trump has complained privately that he believes he is only going to being indicted because he thinks Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “hates him,” according to a source familiar with what Trump has said…
Some of Trump’s advisers had urged him privately not to call for protests, concerned about the optics of a mass protest in the streets of Manhattan growing out of control or resembling the 2021 insurrection…
Law enforcement officials who are privy to the discussions said several concerns have been discussed in the planning process, including courthouse security and the potential for demonstrations or rallies outside of the courthouse by Trump supporters or counter demonstrations by anti-Trump protesters, with the risk of the two groups clashing.
Trump is of course free to call for protests on his behalf and protesters are allowed to protest for whatever reason. But the concern is that this could lead to some kind of repeat of January 6 with some of the protesters getting out of hand, i.e. attacking police or trying to enter a courthouse. Alternatively, in a place like New York there would probably be lots of counter-protesters showing up who could also turn this from a peaceful protest into a melee.
The reality is that no one is going to barge into a room an put Trump in handcuffs. If there is an indictment next week, lawyers will get on the phone with Trump’s lawyers and discuss a peaceful surrender process. Trump surely knows that already so the claim that he’ll be arrested next Tuesday seems more like a guess and possibly an attempt to get people worked up.
The reality is that the case against Trump doesn’t look terribly strong beyond a misdemeanor. He’s certainly better off facing it with his lawyers and without the distraction of protests and counter-protests facing off outside.
Finally, lots of reactions to this online today on all sides.
Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.
I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by… https://t.co/elpbh7LeWn
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 18, 2023
Have *any* Republicans responded to Trump's attempt to summon another mob?
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) March 18, 2023
As expected, both sides are ratcheting up the rhetoric in anticipation of a Trump arrest. On the left, there is a "thrill kill" sense to the celebration. On the right, there is an apocalyptic tenor that ignores the protections afforded by our legal system.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) March 18, 2023
100% this. https://t.co/ETDvzwnn91
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) March 18, 2023
2. Dems are about to FAFO. They are going to make the tribal lines even more entrenched and they better not have a jaywalking ticket or Republican prosecutors will put them in jail. You’re about to see Dems perp walked all over the place.
— Just Mindy 🐊 (@just_mindy) March 18, 2023
A different take.
I have a 100% different take than most conservative Republicans right now.
– the charges are overtly political
– but its a wicked smart move by Democrats
– Trump's downfall is… fatigue
– this is just one more eye-roll moment
What Trump & hardliners think the reaction will be… https://t.co/Cb9QfHOjhd pic.twitter.com/qFunkfL8RC
— Justin Hart (@justin_hart) March 18, 2023
Is Trump dreading this or is it exactly what he needs to really kick off his campaign.
He has zero anxiety. He is looking forward to it. That is why he is planning to fly to New York to surrender. He wants to be the star of this ridiculous show. https://t.co/O3aOA1yF18
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) March 18, 2023
At least one notable person saying this is how Trump wins in a landslide.
If this happens, Trump will be re-elected in a landslide victory
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 18, 2023
There’s also apparently a side-story happening this morning involving Gov. DeSantis or at least involving people talking about Gov. DeSantis.
Three days ago @PaulIngrassia was trying to collude with Democrats to investigate DeSantis
Now, a Democrat DA is about to indict Trump, and he’s demanding Republicans stick together pic.twitter.com/vApbzq4DOC
— Will Chamberlain (@willchamberlain) March 17, 2023
This is just a very small sample of the reactions so far.