By MICHELLE L. PRICE and JILL COLVIN (Associated Press)
NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and called on his supporters to protest as a New York grand jury investigates silent money payments to women who allegedly sex with the former president. There is, however, no evidence that prosecutors contacted him officially.
In a Saturday morning post on his social media platform, Trump said he expected to be taken into custody as the Manhattan District Attorney considers charges in the investigation. Trump would be the first former president ever charged with a crime.
Trump’s message states that “illegal leaks” from the office of Attorney Alvin Bragg indicate that “THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY NEXT WEEK.”
If Trump were indicted, he would only be arrested if he refused to surrender. Trump’s attorneys have previously said he would follow normal procedure, which means he would likely agree to go to a New York Police Department station or directly to Bragg’s office.
There is no evidence that prosecutors made formal contact to warn Trump that he would be taken into custody. A Trump spokesperson said Saturday that “there was no notification” of an impending arrest.
Danielle Filson of the district attorney’s office said prosecutors “will decline to confirm or comment” on questions related to Trump’s message, as well as potential charges. Trump’s attorneys, Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Trump’s message or the timing of a possible arrest.
Trump’s call for his supporters to protest was particularly shocking, reminiscent of language the then-president used shortly before the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
After a rally near the White House that morning, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, smashing doors and windows and leaving officers battered and bloodied as they tried to block congressional certification of the election of Democrat Joe Biden to the White House.
A statement from Trump’s spokesperson said Trump’s post on Truth Social was not based on any notifications from prosecutors “other than unlawful leaks” to the media.
“President Trump rightly emphasizes his innocence and the weaponization of our system of injustice,” the statement read.
Indicting Trump, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings. It is likely to galvanize critics who say Trump, already a 2024 presidential candidate, lied and cheated to get to the top and embolden supporters who feel the Republican is being unfairly targeted by a Democratic prosecutor.
In his social media post, Trump repeated his lies that the 2020 presidential election he lost to Biden was stolen and he urged his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE BACK OUR NATION!”
Law enforcement officials in New York have made security preparations for the possibility that Trump could be indicted. There has been no public announcement of a timeline for the secret grand jury work in the case, including any potential vote on indicting the ex-president.
Trump’s post echoes one made last summer when he announced 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 the search sparked a flood of contributions to Trump’s political operation, and on Saturday Trump sent a fundraising email to his supporters that said “MANHATTAN DA MAY BE CLOSE TO LOADING TRUMP.”
The grand jury heard from witnesses, including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who claims he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade ago. earlier.
Trump denies the encounters happened, says he did nothing wrong and called the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the 2024 Republican campaign.
Bragg’s office apparently looked into whether any state laws were violated in relation to the payments or how Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work in keeping the women’s allegations quiet.
Porn actor Stormy Daniels and at least two former Trump aides – former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks – are among witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen said that at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy their silence on Trump, who was then at the heart of his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said Trump’s company paid him $420,000 to reimburse the $130,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The company has classified these payments internally as legal fees. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid, which prevented 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 charges against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougal amounted to impermissible and unregistered gifts to Trump’s campaign effort.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served time in prison, and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crime.
In addition to the secret money investigation in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
A Justice Department special counsel also presented evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate. It’s unclear 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 current severity — and wide geographic reach — of the legal challenges facing the former president faces. ___
Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Eric Tucker in Washington and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.