It’s been a fair while since America had a good old insurrection and, by the looks of things, it might be getting its next one soon.
Former twice-impeached US President Donald Trump took to social media on Saturday to claim, in third-person, that “the far & away leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday of next week”
Trump bases his claim on “illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan district attorney’s office” and has called on his followers to “protest, take our nation back!” on the right-wing Twitter clone he part-owns, Truth Social. There are fears that such a call could see a repeat of the violence seen during the attack on the US Capitol building by Trump supporters and largely encouraged by the President.
NEW: Trump is suggesting that he will be ARRESTED ON TUESDAY due to Manhattan DA probe
This is historic: he would be the first former president to be indicted
He urges his supporters to “Protest, take our nation back!” pic.twitter.com/mQH8vMxttL
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) March 18, 2023
Obviously, that date has been and gone and Trump is still a free man. However, Manhattan prosecutors are weighing up whether they have enough evidence to charge him in relation to a long-running corruption case.
Their decision appears to rest on the verdict of a grand jury, who were expected to meet on Wednesday, New York time, but have now been postponed until Thursday.
The case, and its possible outcome, has long been the focus of the Trump team. Prior to Trump’s post, his own attorney, Joe Tacopina, told The New York Daily News, unprompted, that Trump would surrender if charged.
“There won’t be a standoff at Mar-a-Lago with Secret Service and the Manhattan DA’s office,” Tacopina said.
The City of New York is reportedly on high alert in preparation for the arrest, with 700 riot police expected to be mobilised across the city to deal with potential protests. The NYPD and the FBI are also collaborating on a plan to keep Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, and his staff safe during and following the arrest.
On Monday night, local time, police were seen erecting riot barriers around the Manhattan courthouse where charges would be filed against the current Republican frontrunner for the 2024 election. Trump is currently in his Florida residence but would have to be transported to New York for legal processing if the charges are made. It has been reported that law enforcement officials have been meeting to work out the logistics.
If Trump is arrested, he will be the first US President to be put in handcuffs since Ulysses S Grant was pulled over for speeding in his horse and buggy in 1872. No other US President has however been formally arrested, indicted, or charged.
Trump’s allies and big players in the Republican Party have rallied around him, claiming the potential arrest is politically motivated and an interference with democracy.
All eyes are on the District Attorney’s office in Manhattan for what could be one of the biggest events in US political history.
Why is Trump Being Arrested?
Trump’s potential and alleged crimes are varied and numerous, ranging from treason, fraud, electoral interference, obstruction of justice, and the mishandling of classified documents, to name but a few. He is currently under investigation by a number of US legal branches for these and other offences.
But prosecutors in New York have been zeroing in on one case that has dragged on across much of his political career: That of his relationship with the porn actress Stormy Daniels.
The recent outburst from Trump suggests that Bragg could be about to decide that he has enough evidence to indict Trump over alleged hush money paid to Daniels just before the 2016 election.
Daniels, who has been outspoken about her relationship with the former President, claims that Trump had sex with her in 2006 at a charity golf tournament four months after the birth of his youngest son, Barron. She attempted to speak about the incident to In Touch Weekly magazine, but the story was spiked after threats from Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. Daniels claims she was personally threatened by people working for Trump and accepted $130,000 from Cohen to keep quiet over concerns for her family’s safety.
Cohen was later jailed in 2018 for legal violations during the 2016 Presidential campaign. In court proceedings, it was revealed that the money he paid Daniels was reimbursed by the Trump Organisation and recorded in their documents as a ‘legal retainer’. Cohen also said that Trump knew about the payments and what they were for.
Trump has acknowledged reimbursing the payment but denies wrongdoing and the affair itself. Paying someone hush money is, surprisingly, not illegal. But doing so with corporate money and then misrecording the payment could amount to ‘falsification of legal records’, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of four years. Given that this was an organisation involved in an election campaign, this could also come under campaign finance violations.
If Trump is arrested, these are likely to be the charges made against him, although it’s not clear if Bragg has other evidence of wrongdoing or charges he could lay against Trump.
Despite what Trump’s supporters online have been saying about building a “patriot moat” around Mar-a-Lago to defend him, Trump’s arrest is likely to be a fairly mundane process. Much of it will be simply fulfilling the legal procedures of fingerprinting and photographing before awaiting trial. That is, of course, unless Trump gets his way.
Sources close to him have said that the former President is hoping to be able to turn the arrest into a full spectacle to galvanise his base. He has even requested to be handcuffed behind his back and ‘perp walked’ into the courthouse, claiming that safety is his last concern and that if he were to be shot he would then go on to win the 2024 election.
The DA may choose not to allow him to be walked past cameras, aware that the imagery will likely force the Republican party to come to his defence. Already, the investigation has proved a lucrative fundraising trigger for Trump and he doesn’t appear to be considering the seriousness of what could amount to felony charges.
While there are concerns that the arrest could prompt violence, New York’s Mayor, Eric Adams, told reporters that police are closely monitoring social media for “inappropriate actions” in the city and have so far found no credible threats.
If he is successfully arrested and charged, it’s likely that Trump will face court and claim ‘not guilty’. Cohen is expected to be a key witness in the case, which much of the prosecution will depend upon.
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers will no doubt attack his history of legal troubles and her perceived unreliability, much of which he earned during his time working for Trump.
Related: Will Donald Trump Be Charged For Jan 6th? It’s Now or Never
Related: She Doesn’t Even Go Here: Gina Rinehart Supporting Trump’s 2024 Presidential Run
Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.