Trump’s advisers and lawyers have expected for days that he will be indicted in the New York case, which hinges on a $130,000 payment to an adult-film star.
But Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said Saturday morning there had been no “notification” of an indictment and said Trump’s supporters should attend a rally he is holding next week in Texas for his 2024 reelection.
Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Trump, said his remark about the timing of his arrest was gleaned from media reports on Friday about local and federal law enforcement players expecting to convene early next week to discuss security and logistics related to Trump’s expected indictment.
“Since this is a political prosecution, the District Attorney’s office has engaged in a practice of leaking everything to the press, rather than communication with President Trump’s attorneys as would be done in a normal case,” Necheles said in a statement.
Two other people close to the former president who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations said they did not know exactly, when or even if, he would be indicted. They said that advisers and lawyers on his team had warned Trump in recent days an indictment could come early next week, including the possibility of Tuesday, but did not know why he singled out that day in his post.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Secret Service officials were caught by surprise on Saturday morning by Trump’s posting predicting a Tuesday arrest, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who was granted anonymity to discuss sensitive planning. During discussions on Friday in preparation for Trump’s possible indictment in New York, Secret Service leaders expected that Trump’s legal team would immediately notify them when his lawyers heard about any planned indictment.
The Secret Service officials also expect that the district attorney’s office would negotiate terms under which Trump could voluntarily turn himself in. The lawyers have provided no such notification, according to the person familiar with the Secret Service planning.
Trump’s post was reminiscent of his call in late 2020 for supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to protest the election results, urging them to “Be there, will be wild.” On Saturday, Truth Social users posted comments such as “all hell will break loose” in response to the possibility of Trump’s indictment.
Mary McCord, director of a democracy advocacy center at Georgetown Law School, said Trump is whipping up extremists who could engage in violence.
“Trump knows the call-and-response impact of his words on his most ardent followers. His call to ‘take our nation back,’ like his last-ditch call for them to ‘fight like hell’ on January 6, is not only the request, but the permission for them to act, violently if necessary,” McCord added. “Protest is protected and valued in America, but violence and incitement to violence is unlawful and unprotected by the First Amendment.”
McCord and her organization repeatedly warned the FBI and local authorities in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 that domestic extremists egged on by Trump’s call to his Washington rally were planning to target the Capitol that day and attack both police and lawmakers.
Trump supporter and antiabortion activist Frank Pavone wrote, “Oh yes, we will protest, and it will be overwhelmingly resounding!”
A preliminary security planning meeting was already held recently involving the district attorney’s office and the New York Police Department, according to one person with knowledge of the planning. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.
Trump’s indictment would be a stunning moment: A former president, who faces a slew of other investigations into his handling of classified documents and the Jan. 6 attack, charged over a payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
The case involves a $130,000 payment that Michael Cohen, a former Trump attorney, made to Daniels before the 2016 presidential election, and whether it was made to keep her quiet about allegations that she and Trump had an affair, which he has denied.
Cohen has acknowledged making the payment, saying he did so expecting to be reimbursed; that refund was allegedly documented as payment for legal work.
The case had been examined for years by authorities, but prosecutors have until now declined to pursue charges against Trump. But in recent weeks, Bragg has escalated the case.
Meanwhile, Trump’s team has begun fundraising on the prospect of his arrest, after the FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago home last year drove to his best fundraising days since leaving the White House, as The Washington Post has reported.
“MANHATTAN D.A. COULD BE CLOSE TO CHARGING TRUMP,” one pitch Saturday morning read. “Patriot — With the Deep State gunning for President Trump with phony witch hunts like never before, we had to be sure you saw the *private and secure* message he wrote for YOU. See below!”
Trump and his team are preparing to go to “political war,” in the words of one adviser, to impugn the credibility of Bragg, Cohen and Daniels. Trump, who was kicked off numerous social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack, has been getting back his accounts. On Friday, he posted on Facebook and YouTube, telling his followers he was back online.
Trump also wants to force other Republicans to defend him against the investigation publicly, the adviser said.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sprang to Trump’s defense on Saturday morning, calling for a congressional inquiry into the Manhattan district attorney. “I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter.
Ali Alexander, an organizer of “Stop the Steal” rallies, seemed to be backing away from Trump’s calls in a posting on Twitter in response to Trump’s posting. Alexander suggested that people who protest in New York City “will be jailed or worse.” He instead urged his followers to help the families of people who were arrested on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack.
“Previously, I had said if Trump was arrested or under the threat of a perp walk, 100,000 patriots should shut down all routes to Mar-a-Largo,” Alexander posted on the Telegram platform. “Now, I’m retired. I’ll pray for him though!”
Investigators are continuing to examine Trump’s role on Jan. 6 as well as the potential mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Separately, Georgia prosecutors are nearing the end of their probe of his efforts to overturn the state’s election results.
Advisers have said Trump has been focused on the investigations intently in recent months and has long dreaded a potential arrest or indictment.
After posting on Truth Social, Trump was said to be golfing on Saturday at his club in Jupiter, Fla.