Former US president Donald Trump said he expects to be “arrested” tomorrow over an alleged hush-money payment to a porn star in 2016 and urged his supporters to protest as prosecutors gave signs of moving closer to an indictment.
If indicted, he would be the first former US president to be charged with a crime, marking an explosive and unpredictable development in next year’s White House race as Trump seeks again to clinch the Republican nomination.
“Leading Republican candidate & former President of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday of next week,” the 76-year-old said on Saturday on his Truth Social platform, adding: “Protest, take our nation back!”
Not even a conviction in the hush money case would prevent Trump from running, but an indictment could have major consequences, galvanizing his critics, but also electrifying his supporters.
US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, reacted with fury, accusing New York prosecutors of pursuing “political vengeance” against Trump.
McCarthy vowed on Twitter to launch a congressional probe into the matter.
However, his Democratic predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, who was still speaker when Trump was impeached for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, US Capitol riots, said his announcement would “foment unrest among his supporters.”
“He cannot hide from his violations of the law, disrespect for our elections and incitements to violence,” Pelosi said.
The current investigation, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, centers on US$130,000 paid weeks before the 2016 polls to stop porn star Stormy Daniels from going public about an affair she said she had with Trump years earlier.
Trump has denied having had an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and has insisted the probe amounted to “blatant and unconstitutional” election interference.
His lawyer told CNBC on Friday that Trump, if indicted, would surrender to face criminal charges.
On Truth Social, written in capital letters, Trump referred to “illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan district attorneys office” and said that the investigation was “based on an old & fully debunked (by numerous other prosecutors!) fairytale.”
He doubled down in another post, assailing US President Joe Biden as “crooked,” and urging his followers to “Protest, Protest, Protest!!!”
Reports said authorities were planning to increase security around the Manhattan courthouse in the coming days.
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