Donald Trump on Saturday called on his supporters to protest amid reports he could be arrested next week over hush money payments he allegedly paid to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
In a post on his Truth Social site, the former president called the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office “corrupt” as a grand jury weighed whether he should be indicted and face charges over the allegations.
“Leading Republican candidate & former President of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday of next week. Protest, take our nation back!” he wrote in capital letters.
Mr Trump referred to “illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan district attorneys office,” and in a later post said: “It’s time!! They are killing our nation as we sit back & watch. We must save America! Protest, protest, protest!!!”
It came after NBC, AP and other US media reported that law enforcement was preparing for Mr Trump to be indicted as “early as next week” in connection with purported payments to Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and other women who alleged sexual encounters with him.
Police officials told the networks that they were preparing for potential pro-Trump rallies outside of the Manhattan courthouse.
Lawyers for the Florida-based Republican said he would comply with any legal order, while sources close to his team briefed CNN that he would present himself to the New York court and expressed an interest in making a speech after. They had reportedly privately urged Mr Trump not to call on protesters to demonstrate, fearing the optics on the streets of Manhattan.
If he is indicted, it would make Mr Trump the first former president ever to face criminal charges.
Mr Trump’s call for protests echoed his appeal to backers to march to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, which ended as a deadly riot.
His arrest could galvanise voters, who see the 2024 presidential candidate as the victim of a Democratic witch hunt. Elon Musk, meanwhile, responded to the development by stating that if he was to be charged, Mr Trump would “be re-elected in a landslide victory”.
“Having seen what happened on January 6, I think this is potentially very dangerous,” said John Bolton, former National Security Adviser in the Trump administration. “I hope prosecutors in New York are very very sure of their case.”
There has been no public announcement of any timeframe…
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