Donald Trump claimed on Saturday that his arrest is imminent and issued an extraordinary 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 on Tuesday.
His message seemed designed to preempt a formal announcement from prosecutors and to galvanize outrage from his base of supporters in advance of widely anticipated charges. Within hours, he sent a fundraising email to supporters while influential Republicans in Congress issued statements in his defense.
In a later post that went beyond simply exhorting loyalists to protest about his legal peril, the 2024 presidential candidate directed his overarching ire in all capital letters at the Biden administration and raised the prospect of civil unrest: “IT’S TIME!!!” he wrote. “WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THIS ANYMORE. THEY’RE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SIT BACK & WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA!PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”
It all evoked, in foreboding ways, the rhetoric he used shortly before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. After hearing from the then-president at a Washington rally that morning, his supporters marched to the Capitol and tried to stop the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory, breaking through doors and windows of the building and leaving officers beaten and bloodied.
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 authoriSed 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 OF NEXT WEEK.”
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.
Trump’s aides and legal team have been preparing the possibility of an indictment. Should that happen, he would be arrested only if he refused to surrender. Trump’s lawyers have previously said he would follow normal procedure, meaning he would likely agree to surrender at a New York Police Department precinct or directly to Bragg’s office.
It is unclear whether Trump’s supporters would heed his protest call or if he retains the same persuasive power he held as president. Trump’s posts on Truth Social generally receive far less attention than he used to get on Twitter, but he maintains a deeply loyal base.