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Trump expects arrest in a alleged sexual case, calls protest

NEW YORK –

Donald Trump insisted on Saturday that his arrest was imminent and made an extraordinary appeal to his supporters to protest as a New York grand jury investigates payments to women who allegedly had sex with the former president.

Even as Trump’s lawyer and spokeswoman said there had been no communication from prosecutors, Trump said in a post on his social media platform that he expected to be taken into custody on Tuesday.

His message appeared designed to forestall a formal statement from prosecutors and to inflame his support base ahead of the widely expected charges. Within hours, he sent out a fundraising letter to supporters, while influential Republicans in Congress issued statements in his defense.

In a later post that went beyond simply urging loyalists to protest his legal peril, the 2024 presidential candidate directed his overwhelming anger at the Biden administration in all caps and raised the prospect of civil unrest; “IT IS TIME!!!” he wrote: “WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS ANYMORE. THEY ARE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SAT AND WATCHED. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA. PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”

All of which, predictably, evoked the rhetoric he used just before the January 6, 2021, riot on the US Capitol. After hearing the then-president’s remarks at a Washington rally that morning, his supporters marched on the Capitol and tried to stop Congress ratifying Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory, smashing doors and windows and leaving officers battered and bloodied.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg is believed to be charged with investigating the money and recently suggested Trump testify before a grand jury. Local law enforcement agencies are preparing for the consequences of the unprecedented pursuit of the former US president.

However, there has been no public announcement of any time frame for the secret work of the jurors in the case. At least one additional witness is expected to testify, further indicating that an indictment has yet to be voted on, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

That didn’t stop Trump from taking to his social media platform to say that “illegal leaks” from Bragg’s office show that “THE LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WILL BE ARREST TUESDAY. “

Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, said Trump’s post was “based on media reports,” although the origin of Trump’s mention Tuesday was unclear. The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Trump’s aides and legal team were preparing for the possibility of an indictment. If this happens, he will be arrested only if he refuses to surrender. Trump’s lawyers have previously said he would follow the normal procedure, meaning he would likely agree to surrender at the New York Police Department or directly to Bragg’s office.

It is unclear whether Trump’s supporters will heed his appeal, or whether he will retain the same persuasive power he had as president. Trump’s posts on Truth Social generally receive far less attention than he once did on Twitter, but he maintains a deeply loyal base. The aftermath of the Jan. 6 riots, in which hundreds of Trump loyalists were arrested and prosecuted in federal court, may also dampen the passion for conflict among supporters.

The indictment of Trump, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings.

Even as Trump continues his latest campaign for the White House. his first rally is scheduled for later this month in Waco, Texas, and he was scheduled to make a public appearance Saturday night at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ca. No doubt the indictment will be a distraction and provide fodder for opponents and critics tired of the legal scandals that have long dogged him.

In addition to the New York money probe, Trump faces separate criminal investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Atlanta and Washington.

The Justice Department’s special counsel also presented evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate. It’s unclear when those investigations will end or whether they could lead to criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York, underscoring the continuing gravity and broad geographic scope of the legal challenges facing the former president. .

Trump’s post on Saturday echoes one from 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 misuse of classified documents.

News of that search sparked an outpouring of investment in Trump’s political endeavors, and on Saturday Trump sent a fundraising email to supporters saying “MANHATTAN COULD BE CLOSER TO TRUMP’S IMPLEMENTATION.”

After he took office, House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy denounced any plans to prosecute Trump as “a rampant abuse of power by a radical DA” who he said was seeking “political vendetta.” A similar statement was made by Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican member of the House of Representatives.

The grand jury is hearing from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he arranged payments to two women in 2016 to keep them quiet about sexual relations they said they had with Trump a decade ago.

Trump denies the meetings took place, says he did nothing wrong and has called the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican 2024 campaign. Trump also called Bragg, who is black, a “racist” and accused the prosecutor of allowing crime in the city while he focused on Trump. New York remains one of the safest cities in the country.

Bragg’s office appears to be looking into whether state laws were violated in connection with the payments or how Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.

Porn star Stormi Daniels and at least two former Trump aides, onetime political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks, are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.

Cohen said that at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougall. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the midst of his first presidential campaign.

Cohen and federal prosecutors said Trump’s company paid him $420,000 in compensation for a $130,000 payment to Daniels and bonuses and other alleged expenses. The company classified these payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougall was made by the then-publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket, which prevented his story from being published.

Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s corporate parent in exchange for its cooperation in the campaign finance investigation that led to the charges against Cohen in 2018.

Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time and lost his job. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crime.

The news that law enforcement agencies are preparing for a possible indictment was first reported by NBC News.

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Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Colin Long in Washington and Meg Kinard in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.

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