Former US President Donald Trump said he expects to be “arrested” next Tuesday and called on his supporters to protest, in the face of a possible accusation against him for paying money to silence a porn actress.
Pointing to “leaks” from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Trump, who is aiming to run for the White House again in 2024, wrote on his Social Truth network, in all capital letters: “The leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday of next week. Protest, take back our nation!”
Rumors have multiplied for a few days about a possible criminal indictment of Trump by a grand jury, within the framework of the investigation led by the New York State District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, a Democratic-elect magistrate.
In the United States, prosecutors can present witnesses and evidence before a panel of citizens known as a grand jury, which then decides whether there is a case that should be answered.
If indicted, the 76-year-old Trump would become the first former US president to be charged with a crime. This would affect his chance of becoming the Republican presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.
One of Trump’s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, told reporters that his client would appear in court in New York if charged.
Involved in several court cases, but never indicted, the former Republican president could see this threat materialized in the New York courts.
The Bragg-led investigation centers on a $130,000 payment made two weeks before the 2016 presidential election, which Trump won, to a porn actress known as Stormy Daniels.
The money was supposedly intended to prevent Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, from publicly revealing a relationship she says she had with Trump some years earlier.
Trump has repeatedly denied an affair with Daniels and dismissed the investigation as politically motivated.
In his Truth Social post yesterday, Trump referred to “illegal leaks from a highly politicized and corrupt Manhattan District Attorney’s office,” saying the investigation was “based on an old and completely debunked fairy tale (! by many other prosecutors!)”.
Invitation to testify
Daniels met with prosecutors Wednesday and “agreed to be available as a witness or for further investigation if necessary,” according to his attorney Charles Brewster.
In early March, Bragg’s prosecutor’s team gave Trump the opportunity to testify, but he is expected to decline to avoid incriminating himself. Experts say that invitation is a sign that he is almost certain to be framed.
On Monday, former Trump hater-turned-lawyer Michael Cohen testified before a grand jury in New York. The payment to Daniels was made by Cohen, who said he was later reimbursed.
That payment, if not properly accounted for, could result in a misdemeanor charge related to falsifying business records. That could be elevated to a felony if the false accounting was intended to cover up a second crime, such as a campaign finance violation, The New York Times reported.
Trump faces several criminal investigations at the state and federal levels for possible wrongdoing before, during and after his tenure that threaten his new career in the White House.
In Georgia, a prosecutor is investigating attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the president’s 2020 election defeat in that southern state. The grand jury in that case has recommended multiple indictments, the president revealed last month.
He is also the subject of a federal investigation into his handling of classified documents, as well as his possible involvement in the violent invasion of the Capitol – seat of the United States Congress – on January 6, 2021.
Convinced that Democrat Joe Biden “stole” the 2020 elections from him, Trump had already called on his supporters to mobilize and fuel the political crisis in Washington, particularly on January 6, 2021 and in the attack on the Capitol. (AFP)