Former U.S. president Donald Trump said he expects to be arrested on Tuesday in a case brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and called on his supporters to protest, according to a post on Truth Social, his social media site, on Saturday.
A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, Danielle Filson, said prosecutors “will decline to confirm or comment” on questions related to Trump’s post, as well as potential charges.
Trump said, without providing evidence, that “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan district attorney’s office indicated that he would be arrested. He did not say what the charges would be.
“Illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan district attorney’s office … indicate that, with no crime being able to be proven … the far & away leading Republican candidate & former president of the United States of America, will be arrested on Tuesday of next week,” Trump wrote.
“Protest, take our nation back!”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office earlier this year began presenting evidence to a grand jury investigating a $130,000 US payment that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, made to porn star Stormy Daniels in the waning days of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
No evidence prosecutors have reached out
In a Saturday morning post on his own social media platform, Trump said he expected to be taken into custody as the Manhattan district attorney eyes charges in the investigation into hush-money payments to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president.
Should Trump be indicted, 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.
A Trump lawyer, Susan Necheles, said Trump’s post was “based on the media reports,” though the origin of his Tuesday reference was unclear. The district attorney’s office declined comment.
There is no evidence that prosecutors have made any formal contact to warn Trump that he would be taken into custody. A Trump spokesperson said on Saturday that “there has been no notification” of a pending arrest.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier. He has denied an affair happened.
Trump, who was Republican president from 2017 to 2021, has said he will make a bid to return to the White House in the 2024 U.S. presidential election.
Bragg’s office earlier this month invited Trump to testify before the grand jury probing the hush money payments, according to Trump’s lawyer, Necheles. Legal experts said that was a sign that an indictment was close.
Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal campaign finance violations tied to his arranging payments to Daniels and another woman, among other crimes. He has said Trump directed him to make the payments. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan did not charge Trump with a crime.
Cohen testified before the grand jury on Monday and again on Wednesday, according to his lawyer, Lanny Davis. Grand jury proceedings are not public.
Daniels’s lawyer said she spoke with prosecutors last week.
Republicans rally behind Trump
Prominent Republicans rushed to Trump’s defence on Saturday after he said he is bracing for possible arrest.
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy 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 said he would direct relevant Republican-led House committees “to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”
“Well, like many Americans, I’m just, I’m taken aback,” said former vice-president Mike Pence, who is widely expected to enter the presidential race in the coming weeks and has been escalating his criticism of Trump.
Pence had been noncommittal when asked on Thursday if Trump should drop out if he is indicted. “I think it’s a free country. Everybody can make their own decisions,” he said.
Vivek Ramaswamy, a conservative tech investor who is already a declared candidate, called on Bragg to “reconsider.”
“A Trump indictment would be a national disaster,” Ramaswamy said on Twitter. “It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals.
“Let the American people decide who governs,” he added. “This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself.”
Representatives for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another potential candidate who is seen as Trump’s most serious rival, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump facing other investigations
The probe is one of several legal woes Trump faces as he seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency.
He is also confronting a state-level criminal probe in Georgia over efforts to overturn the 2020 results in that state.
A special counsel named by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is currently investigating Trump’s handling of classified government documents after leaving office, as well as his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden, a Democrat.
Bragg’s office last year won the conviction of the Trump Organization on tax fraud charges. But Bragg declined to charge Trump himself with financial crimes related to his business practices, prompting two prosecutors who worked on the probe to resign.
Trump leads his early rivals for his party’s nomination, holding the support of 43 per cent of Republicans in a February Reuters/Ipsos poll, compared with 31 per cent for his nearest rival, DeSantis, who has not yet announced his candidacy.