Former U.S. President Donald Trump stated on Saturday that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday as New York prosecutors explore charges related to a hush money payment to a pornstar, and he urged his followers to protest.
Trump said on Truth Social, "Illegal leaks from a corrupt and highly politicized Manhattan district attorney's office indicate that, despite no crime being established, the top Republican candidate and former president of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday of next week."
Trump's spokesperson stated that the former president had not been informed of any arrest. Trump offered no evidence of leaks from the district attorney's office and did not mention potential charges in his blog post.
Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss, shouting, "Protest, take our nation back!"
The investigation comes as Trump seeks the 2024 GOP presidential candidacy.
No U.S. president has faced criminal charges, whether in or after leaving office. Trump has stated that he will continue campaigning even if he faces criminal charges.
A representative for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office is investigating a $130,000 hush payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels by Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, declined to comment.
According to sources, Bragg's office has presented information to a grand jury regarding the payment, which was made in the dying days of Trump's 2016 campaign in exchange for Daniels' silence regarding an affair she claims to have had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump has denied the affair and referred to the Democrat Bragg's inquiry as a witch hunt.
At the request of Trump's attorneys, an additional witness will likely go before the grand jury on Monday, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
The anonymous source said that Trump's assertion that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday is based on press reports that Bragg's office would be meeting with law officials to prepare for a possible indictment.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican U.S. House of Representatives speaker, condemned the inquiry on Saturday.
McCarthy tweeted, "Here we go again – an appalling abuse of authority by a radical district attorney who lets dangerous murderers go free while pursuing political vengeance on President Trump."
McCarthy's predecessor as speaker, Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi, who was at the Capitol when hundreds of Trump supporters rushed the building and clashed with police, condemned Trump's demand.
Pelosi stated, "The former president's announcement this morning is reckless: he did so to keep himself in the news and to incite unrest among his fans." His transgressions of the law, disdain for our elections, and incitement to violence cannot be concealed.
Trump's former vice president, Mike Pence, told ABC News that Trump's possible indictment "feels like a politically motivated prosecution." When asked about Trump's call for protests if he is indicted, Pence stated that he believes demonstrators will understand "they must do so peacefully and within the law."
This month, Bragg's office requested Trump to testify before the grand jury investigating the payment, which legal experts saw as a hint that an indictment is imminent. Trump rebuffed the offer, according to a source familiar with the matter.
"We do not accept attempts to intimidate our office or harm the rule of law in New York," Bragg said in an email to staff on Saturday, published by Politico and corroborated by Reuters. We will continue administering the law equitably and speak only when necessary in public."
Bragg's email did not address Trump by name but referenced "continuing news attention and public comments on an ongoing inquiry.
Cohen pled guilty in 2018 to federal campaign finance violations related to his arrangement of payments to Daniels and another woman in return for their silence regarding alleged romances with Trump. According to him, Trump instructed him to make the payments. Manhattan's U.S. Attorney's office did not file criminal charges against Trump.
The investigation is among Trump's many legal problems as he seeks the GOP nominee for president.
Trump is also the subject of a state-level criminal investigation relating to efforts to reverse the 2020 election results in Georgia.
Currently, a special counsel appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is examining Trump's handling of secret government information after leaving office and his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
Last year, Bragg's office successfully prosecuted the Trump Organization for tax evasion. But Bragg declined to charge Trump with financial crimes linked to his business operations, forcing the resignation of two prosecutors involved in the investigation.
On Saturday, Trump, who visited the NCAA wrestling championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, leads his early competitors for his party's candidacy. In a February Reuters/Ipsos poll, 43% of Republicans supported him, compared to 31% for his closest challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not yet declared his campaign.
Trump first denied knowing anything about Daniels' payment in 2018. Later, he admitted reimbursing Cohen for the payment, which he called a "simple private transaction."
Last week, Cohen, who served prison time after pleading guilty, testified before the grand jury. The grand jury procedures are confidential. Outside the courthouse in downtown Manhattan, he told reporters that his refusal to testify against Trump was motivated by a desire for vengeance.
He stated, "This is all about accountability." "He must be held accountable for his nefarious actions."
According to her attorney, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, spoke with prosecutors last week.
Trump established Truth Social after being banned from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube following the assault on the Capitol on January 6. He has recently recovered access to these services, but on Saturday, he limited his comments to Truth.
Jennifer Stromer-Falley, a senior assistant dean at Syracuse University and a specialist on the use of social media during elections, stated, "His posts on Truth Social are alarming, as he claims the entire court system is corrupt."