Donald Trump claims he will be arrested on Tuesday and has called on his supporters to protest.
But how likely is it that the former president of the United States will be arrested, as he says?
Trump’s claim comes as a New York grand jury is investigating hush money to women who allegedly had sexual encounters with the former president.
Although his lawyer and spokesman 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 on Tuesday.
His message appeared designed to pre-empt a formal announcement by prosecutors and to spark outrage from his base of supporters in advance of widely expected charges. Within hours, his campaign sent out fundraising appeals to supporters, while influential Republicans in Congress and even some declared and potential rival candidates issued statements in his defense.
In a later post that went beyond merely admonishing loyalists to protest their legal peril, the 2024 presidential candidate directed his all-caps anger at the Biden administration and raised the prospect of civil unrest:
“IT’S TIME!!!” he wrote. “WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THIS FOR LONGER. THEY ARE KILLING OUR NATION WHEN WE SIT BACK AND WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”
It all evoked, insultingly, the rhetoric he used shortly before the uprising in the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. After hearing from the then-president at a rally in Washington that morning, his supporters marched on the Capitol and tried to stop congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory, smashed doors and windows into the building and left officers battered and bloodied.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg is believed to be familiar with the allegations in the hush money probe and recently offered Trump a chance to testify before the grand jury. Local law enforcement officials are bracing for the public safety implications of an unprecedented indictment of a former U.S. president.
In an internal email following Trump’s remarks, Bragg said law enforcement would ensure the 1,600 people who work in his office remain safe and that “any specific or credible threat” would be investigated.
There has been no public announcement of any time frame for the grand jury’s undercover work in the case. At least one additional witness is expected to testify, further indicating that no vote on charges 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 didn’t stop Trump from taking to his social media platform to say “illegal leaks” from Bragg’s office indicate that “THE LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE BY FAR AND AWAY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WILL BE ARREST ON TUESDAY NEXT WEEK.”
A Trump lawyer, Susan Necheles, said Trump’s post was “based on media reports,” and a spokesperson said there had been “no communication” from Bragg’s office, though the origin of Trump’s Tuesday reference was unclear. The district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Trump’s aides and legal team have been bracing for the possibility of an indictment. Should that happen, he would only be arrested if he refused to surrender. Trump’s lawyers have previously said he would follow normal procedures, meaning he would likely agree to surrender at a New York police department or directly to Bragg’s office.
It is unclear whether Trump’s supporters would heed his call for protest or whether he retains the same persuasiveness he had as president. Trump’s posts on Truth Social generally get far less attention than he used to get on Twitter, but he has a deeply loyal base. The aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, in which hundreds of Trump loyalists were arrested and charged in federal court, may also have dampened the passion among supporters for confrontation.
The indictment of Trump, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings.
Even as Trump runs his latest White House campaign, there is no doubt that an indictment would be a distraction and provide fodder for opponents and critics tired of the legal scandals that have long surrounded him.
In addition to the silence investigation in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington for his efforts to undo the results of the 2020 election.