Former US President Donald Trump, who lost the 2020 election, made a shocking statement on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, claiming that he is expecting to be arrested on Tuesday in a case related to alleged hush money paid to an ex-porn star.
Writing from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, Trump surprised his advisers by posting an all-caps message on his Truth Social platform on Saturday morning that declared he “WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” His language echoed rhetoric that he used in advance of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by his supporters.
Trump’s assertion was based on media reports that he could be indicted next week, but the Manhattan district attorney’s office has not confirmed any such development.
Trump’s post was reminiscent of his rhetoric in late 2020 summoning a mob of terrorists to descend on Washington for a Jan. 6 protest over his defeat in the election, when he disputed the results and urged his supporters to “Be there, will be wild.”
That results in a massive attack on the Capitol Building that interrupted but did not stop Congress’ certification of the election results and resulted in the deaths of at least five people, including U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and terrorist Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police.
On Saturday, Truth Social users posted comments such as “all hell will break loose” in response to the possibility of Trump’s indictment.
If Trump is indicted, it would mark the first time a former president has been charged with a criminal case and the legal action would have serious implications for the 2020 election loser’s campaign to capture the Republican nomination for a third time in 2024.
For five years, prosecutors in New York have been investigating allegations that hush money was paid on Trump’s behalf to former porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels claims that she was paid $130,000 by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair.
Trump denies the accusations but Cohen, who has admitted to his role in the hush money plot, gave testimony before the grand jury and reacted publicly to reports that Stormy Daniels met with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.
Cohen served time in prison for the Stormy Daniels payments, tax evasion and lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump property in Russia.
New York prosecutors offered Trump a chance to testify before grand jury, but he did not accept the opportunity.
Cohen paid $130,000 to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 with the goal of keeping her from publicly revealing that years earlier, she had an affair with Trump.
Trump denies the affair and maintains that Daniels was an opportunist shaking him down because of his stature and his vulnerability as a presidential candidate.
Back on earth, all the evidence suggests that Trump broke campaign finance laws by using what he tried to hide as routine legal fees to reimburse Cohen the money he paid to Daniels.
Although he has not yet been charged in any of the cases, the former president is currently being investigated in several legal matters, each of which he has denied any wrongdoing.
Reports suggest that the investigation into the alleged hush money paid to Daniels has progressed with Trump being invited to testify to a grand jury earlier this month. The hearings are conducted in secret, and several former aides of Trump have reportedly testified in this case.
According to law enforcement officials cited by US media organizations, New York authorities are preparing for the possibility of Trump being indicted and appearing in a Manhattan courtroom as early as next week. It remains unclear what charges he could face if indicted.
It would be unusual for a state prosecutor to use an alleged violation of a federal law, rather than of a state campaign finance law, as grounds to elevate a false-paperwork case from a misdemeanor to a felony. But it would also be unusual to prosecute a presidential candidate for violating state — as opposed to federal — campaign finance law.
Trump’s lawyers have been critical of the district attorney’s office’s handling of the case, claiming that “illegal leaks” have suggested that he would be arrested. Trump’s attorney, Susan Necheles, told CBS News that the post on his social networking site was “based on media reports” and that the district attorney’s office has engaged in a practice of leaking everything to the press, rather than communicating with Trump’s legal team as would be done in a normal case.
Joseph Tacopina, another one of Trump’s lawyers, said that “we will follow the normal procedures” if Trump is indicted. However, the practicalities of taking a former president into court, including questions around security, are being considered by law enforcement officials.
If the former president is indicted, it would be a significant moment in US history, marking the first time that a former president is charged with a criminal case. Trump’s claim that he is expecting to be arrested has sparked concerns of potential unrest among his supporters, who could be motivated to protest against any legal action.