The arrest of a former president – who is also an active candidate for the White House in 2024 – would be unprecedented in American history.
In his usual bombastic style, Trump has been railing against the “rigged” judicial system and has called on his supporters to launch protests.
“The leading Republican candidate and former President of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday of next week,” the 76-year-old billionaire recently said on his Truth social platform.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is the porn star case?
The current investigation, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, focuses on a $130,000 payment weeks before the 2016 elections to block the porn star. stormy daniels Going public about an affair she says she had with Trump years ago.
Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and has dismissed the investigation as politically motivated.
On March 13, a New York court heard from Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who paid Daniels. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 on related federal charges. He confessed to his crime but said that he was following Trump’s order.
Daniels himself met with prosecutors on March 15 and “agreed to make himself available as a witness, or for further questioning if necessary,” according to his attorney, Charles Brewster.
Trump has been invited to testify in what legal experts say an impeachment is imminent.
What are the allegations against Trump?
Payments made to Daniels, if not properly accounted for, could lead to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying business records. If the false accounting was intended to cover up another crime, such as a campaign finance violation, it could be raised as a felony.
Trump’s attorney said his client would surrender to face criminal charges if charged.
What can happen next week?
In the near term, any indictment will require Trump to travel to the district attorney’s office in downtown New York to surrender. In white-collar cases, the defendant’s attorney and prosecutor usually agree on a date and time instead of arresting the person at home.
Trump will have his fingerprints and mugshot taken and appear in court for a hearing. Experts said he would likely be released on his own recognizance and allowed to go home.
Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said that Trump would surrender if charged.
If Trump refuses to appear voluntarily, prosecutors may seek to extradite him from Florida, where he currently resides.
When is Trump getting arrested?
Trump has said he expects to be “arrested” on March 21 as prosecutors show signs of moving closer to an indictment.
Trump’s lawyer Susan Necheles, however, indicated that her post on Saturday was based on media reports and not on any new actions taken by prosecutors.
Reports say officials are planning to increase security around the Manhattan Courthouse in the coming days.
Can Trump really be arrested?
Incumbent presidents are largely free from criminal prosecution, however, as Trump was voted out of the White House in the 2020 elections, which makes him subject to the rule of law like anyone else.
A former president has unusual security protocols, however, and the terms of any arrest would need to be worked out with the Secret Service.
This is uncharted territory for all agencies involved. Even US President Richard Nixon was pardoned for his involvement in the Watergate scandal before he even faced the criminal justice system.
The average criminal case in New York takes more than a year to move from indictment to trial, and Trump’s case is far from typical.
Legal experts said any trial of the former US president would still be more than a year away, and could coincide with the final months of the 2024 presidential campaign as Trump seeks a return to the White House.
What was Trump’s response?
Trump appeared to confirm rumors of his impending arrest in a series of posts on his Truth social account on Saturday.
Using all capital letters for emphasis, Trump begins in an apocalyptic tone, denouncing the “death” of the American dream; the corruption of “radical left anarchists”; and the injustice of “keeping the patriots caged and imprisoned like animals”.
He then continued: “Now, illegal leaks from a corrupt and highly politicized Manhattan District Attorney’s Office … indicate that … far and away the leading Republican candidate and former President of the United States will be elected on Tuesday of next week. Will be arrested.”
Trump called on his supporters to take to the streets: “Protest, take back our country! It’s time!!! We must save America! Resist, Resist, Resist!!!”
‘I’m back!’: Donald Trump returns to Facebook and YouTube after two-year ban
The calls for a new wave of unrest — and the volatile echoes of January 6 — come as Trump recently gained access to his mainstream social media accounts, including his YouTube account on March 17.
How will the arrest affect Trump’s White House dream?
Some observers believe an indictment bodes ill for Trump’s 2024 chances, while others say it could provide a major boost.
Political strategist Rick Wilson, who left the Republican Party in protest of Trump, tweeted, “The arrest secures the nomination for Donald Trump.” “The base will rally politically and possibly physically.”
Tech billionaire Elon Musk, a self-described moderate who has aligned increasingly with Republican positions and who overturned a Twitter ban on Trump, went even further.
“If this happens, Trump will be re-elected with a landslide,” Musk said in a tweet.
Not even a conviction in the hush money case will stop Trump from running, but an indictment could have huge consequences, galvanizing his critics but also electrifying his supporters.
What has been the reaction of the Democrats?
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi described Trump’s announcement as “reckless”, saying it would “create unrest among his supporters.”
She insisted that justice must take its course: “Whatever the grand jury decides, the idea is clear: no one is above the law, not even the former President of the United States.”
“He cannot hide from his violations of the law, disrespect for our elections and incitement to violence,” said Pelosi, who was still speaker when Trump was impeached on January 6, 2021 for inciting a riot at the US Capitol I went.
How have Republicans responded?
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reacted with fury, accusing New York prosecutors of “political vendetta” against Trump.
McCarthy vowed on Twitter to launch a congressional investigation into the matter and said the impending arrest was “a blatant abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues a political vendetta against President Trump”.
Mike Pence, who recently said Trump endangered the former vice president’s family, on Jan. 6 chose to echo the party line: criticizing the Manhattan district attorney and questioning his motives.
Rudy Giuliani on Truth Social argued: “What the Democrats are doing to President Trump, they will do to you. They have destroyed the fair and equal administration of justice in the United States.”
Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona played dubious whatnotism on the truth, writing: “President Trump is on his way to being impeached before any scoundrels in the Biden family. think about that We have a two-tier justice system.”
Also on Truth Social, Rep. Ronnie Jackson of Texas (Trump’s former White House physician) engaged in a “vendetta against conservatives” against a “Soros-owned DA” before advocating for President Biden’s removal. “The nation is falling apart. We need Trump back in charge now!
What are the other legal difficulties Trump is facing?
Trump is facing multiple criminal investigations at the state and federal level over possible wrongdoings that could jeopardize his new run at the White House.
In Georgia, a prosecutor is probing efforts by Trump and his allies to reverse a 2020 election loss in the southern state. The grand jury in that case has recommended multiple indictments, it was revealed last month.
The former president is also the subject of a federal investigation into his handling of classified documents as well as his possible involvement in the January 6 riots.
(with inputs from agencies)
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