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Trump claims arrest imminent, calls for protest

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | March 19, 2023 at 5:01 a.m.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump fly a flag from a boat reading “Trust the Plan” Saturday outside of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP/Lynne Sladky)

NEW YORK -- Donald Trump claimed Saturday that his arrest is imminent and issued a 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 a Trump 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 Tuesday.

In a later post that went beyond simply exhorting loyalists to protest about his legal peril, the 2024 presidential candidate directed hisire in all capital letters at the Biden administration and raised the prospect of civil unrest.


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. But 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, further indicating that no vote to indict has yet been taken, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

That did not stop Trump from taking to his social media platform to say "illegal leaks" from Bragg's office indicate that "THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY."

A Trump lawyer, Susan Necheles, said Trump's post was "based on the media reports," though the origin of Trump's Tuesday reference was unclear. The district attorney's office declined comment.

It is unclear whether Trump's supporters would heed his protest call or if he retains the same persuasive power he held as president.

In addition to the hush money inquiry in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to undo the results of the 2020 election.

A Justice Department special counsel has also been presenting evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump's possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate. It is not clear when those investigations will end or whether they might result in criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York.

The grand jury has been hearing 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 encounters occurred and claims he did nothing wrong.


Top Republicans, including some of Trump's potential rivals for the GOP's 2024 presidential nomination, rushed to his defense Saturday after Trump said he is bracing for possible arrest.

"The idea of indicting a former president of the United States is deeply troubling to me as it is to tens of millions of Americans," said former Vice President Mike Pence during a visit to Iowa, an early-voting state.

Tech investor Vivek Ramaswamy, campaigning in South Carolina, said he didn't want to live in a country where "the party in power is able to use police force to arrest its political opposition."'

Among those coming to Trump's defense were House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said a possible indictment would be "an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance" against Trump.

McCarthy, R-Calif., said he would direct relevant GOP-led House committees "to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions."

McCarthy has not endorsed Trump's White House campaign, but Trump helped McCarthy secure the speakership.

Representatives for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as Trump's most serious rival for the GOP nomination, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday -- a decision publicized by a super PAC supporting Trump's candidacy.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, another declared candidate, did not address the investigation while campaigning in South Carolina.

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, who won his race in 2022 with Trump's endorsement, said he had been asked by multiple reporters if an indictment would lead him to rescind support for Trump's campaign.

"The answer is: hell no," he tweeted. "We simply don't have a real country if justice depends on politics."

"The prosecutor in New York has done more to help Donald Trump get elected," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a longtime ally, said Saturday at the Vision '24 conference in North Charleston, S.C.. "They're doing this because they're afraid of Donald Trump."

Information for this article was contributed by Michelle L. Price, Jill Colvin and Eric Tucker, Colleen Long, Meg Kinnard, Holly Ramer and Michelle R. Smith of The Associated Press.

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