By MICHELLE L. PRICE and JILL COLVIN (Associated Press)
NEW YORK (AP) – Donald Trump said he expects to be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest as a New York grand jury investigates secret payments to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president. There is no evidence, however, that prosecutors made any formal contact with him.
In a Saturday morning post on his social media platform, Trump said he expected to be taken into custody while the Manhattan district attorney looks into the allegations in the investigation. Trump would be the first former president to be charged with a crime.
Trump’s post said “illegal leaks” from District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office indicate that “LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.”
If Trump were indicted, he would only be arrested if he refused to surrender. Trump’s lawyers have previously said he would follow normal procedure, meaning he would likely agree to turn himself in at an NYPD station or directly at Bragg’s office.
There is no evidence that prosecutors made any formal contact to advise Trump that he would be taken into custody. A Trump spokesman said on Saturday that there was “no notification” of a pending arrest.
Danielle Filson of the district attorney’s office said prosecutors “will refuse to confirm or comment” on issues related to Trump’s post, as well as potential charges. Trump lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Trump’s post or the timing of a possible arrest.
Trump’s call for his supporters to protest was especially shocking, evoking language the then-president used just 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, breaking down doors and windows and leaving officials beaten and bloodied as they tried to prevent Congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election to the White House.
A statement by Trump’s spokesman said Trump’s Truth Social post was not based on any notifications by prosecutors “other than illegal leaks” to the media.
“President Trump is rightly highlighting his innocence and weaponizing our system of injustice,” the statement said.
Trump’s indictment, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal affairs. It is likely to galvanize critics who say Trump, already a 2024 presidential candidate, lied and cheated his way 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 urged his followers to “PROTEST, TAKE BACK OUR NATION!”
Police officers in New York are making security preparations for the possibility of Trump being indicted. There was no public announcement of any time frame for the grand jury’s secret work on the case, including any potential vote on whether or not to indict the former president.
Trump’s post echoes one last summer, when he broke the news 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 that search sparked a flurry of contributions to Trump’s political operation, and on Saturday, Trump sent a fundraising email to his supporters that read, “MANHATTAN DA MAY BE CLOSE TO ACCUSET TRUMP.”
The grand jury heard from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump denies the meetings took place, says he did nothing wrong and has branded the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the 2024 Republican campaign.
Bragg’s office is apparently looking into whether any state laws were violated regarding payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for her work to keep the women’s allegations secret.
Porn actress Stormy Daniels and at least two former Trump aides – former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks – are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen said that under Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy his silence on Trump, who was at the height of his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said Trump’s company paid him $420,000 in reimbursement for paying Daniels $130,000 and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The company classified these payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-editor of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which prevented his story from coming to light.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to sue the Enquirer’s corporate parent 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 gifts and not registered for Trump’s election effort.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served jail time, and was expelled. Federal prosecutors never charged Trump with any crime.
In addition to the bribery investigation in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to undo the 2020 election results.
A Justice Department special counsel also presented evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of confidential documents at his Florida estate. It’s not clear when those investigations will end or whether they could result in criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York, underscoring the current gravity — and broad geographic scope — of the legal challenges facing the former president. ___
Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Eric Tucker in Washington and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.
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