NEW YORK (AP) – Donald Trump (AP, pic below) claimed on Saturday that his arrest is imminent and issued an extraordinary call for his supporters to protest as a New York grand jury investigates hush money payments to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president.
Even as Trump’s lawyer and spokesperson said there had been no communication from prosecutors, Trump declared in a post on his social media platform that he expects to be taken into custody tomorrow.
His message seemed designed to preempt a formal announcement from prosecutors and to galvanise outrage from his base of supporters in advance of widely anticipated charges.
Within hours, his campaign was sending fundraising solicitations to his supporters, while influential Republicans in Congress and even some declared and potential rival candidates issued statements in his defence.
In a later post that went beyond simply exhorting loyalists to protest about his legal peril, the 2024 presidential candidate directed his overarching ire in all capital letters at the Biden administration and raised the prospect of civil unrest: “It’s time!!!” he wrote. “We just can’t allow this anymore. They’re killing our nation as we sit back and watch. We must save America! Protest, Protest, Protest!!!”
It evoked the rhetoric he used shortly before the insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.
After hearing from the then-president at a Washington rally, his supporters marched to the Capitol and tried to stop the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory, breaking through doors and windows and leaving officers beaten and bloodied.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg is thought to be eyeing charges in the hush money investigation, and recently offered Trump a chance to testify before the grand jury.
Local law enforcement officials are bracing for the public safety ramifications of an unprecedented prosecution of a former American president. In an internal e-mail, Bragg said law enforcement would ensure that the 1,600 people who work in his office would remain safe, and that “any specific or credible threats” would be investigated.
“We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” he wrote, and added: “In the meantime, as with all of our investigations, we will continue to apply the law evenly and fairly, and speak publicly only when appropriate”.
There has been no public announcement of any time frame for the grand jury’s secret work in the case.
At least one additional witness is expected to testify, indicating that no vote to indict has yet been taken, according to a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity.