What to Know
- 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
- 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. The former president declined
- Trump’s aides and legal team have been preparing for the possibility of an indictment. Should that happen, he would be arrested only if he refused to surrender
NYPD officers of every rank were ordered to wear their uniforms and prepare for deployment starting Tuesday, according to an internal memo obtained by News 4, as law enforcement agencies at all levels of government shore up security plans ahead of a potential Donald Trump indictment in Manhattan criminal court this week.
The memo, sent by the commanding officer of the NYPD's operations division, instructed all uniformed service members to be mindful of protocol around public disorder and be prepared for mobilization at any time while on duty.
It comes days after former President Donald Trump told his supporters he expected to be arrested Tuesday in connection with a Manhattan grand jury investigation into hush money paid to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president. The 2024 Republican presidential contender called on his base to "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST," evoking rhetoric similar to that he used shortly before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
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But Trump was not arrested on Tuesday. And as the globe awaited a potential decision out of Manhattan criminal court (a decision is expected soon), early protests appeared largely muted.
Aside from a modest protest that was scheduled for Tuesday at Trump Tower going to the Manhattan district attorney’s office — and a separate small caravan of pro-Trump cars going from Long Island to Lower Manhattan – security officials said they were not aware of any developments that might change the dynamic in the city through at least Wednesday.
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Officers erected barricades lining the sidewalk outside Trump Tower and Manhattan Criminal Court Monday, two places where both pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators stopped by throughout the day Tuesday to voice their opinions. Those are likely two of what law enforcement officials say are multiple high-profile locations that the NYPD will cover this week as necessary.
Law enforcement sources said intel teams are closely monitoring social media for any protests, including intentional acts to slow down traffic or disrupt daily life across the city. Thus far, nothing of the sort has taken place.
The police department, Secret Service, court officers and FBI continue to meet to discuss security. Two senior officials said the Secret Service has yet to do a security review of the 100 Centre Street courthouse where Trump could face a judge if he is indicted. Entrances, booking areas, hallways, courtroom, surrounding streets and more would be included in that kind of advanced security review, which would only be done if and/or when an indictment comes down.
During the meetings between law enforcement agencies, officials have discussed various possible routes of arrival for the former president should he be flown to New York to face any charges. La Guardia and Teterboro airports have been mentioned as possibilities, officials said, along with varying routes to and from the courthouse.
As of Monday night, there were no plans or requests for Trump — who has been at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida — to travel to the city this week, according to several sources. The question has been raised whether it would be possible to do a virtual arraignment, sources said, but it does not appear that hypothetical question has been officially asked of the court or the DA’s office directly.
All Eyes on Manhattan District Attorney
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, which the former president declined. Local law enforcement is bracing for the public safety ramifications of an unprecedented prosecution of a former American president.
Officials stress that the interagency conversations and planning are precautionary in nature because no charges have been filed. The agencies involved include the NYPD, New York State Court Officers, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, officials say.
The New York Young Republican Club organized a protest rally in Lower Manhattan on Monday — and while a couple dozen Trump supporters donning red MAGA hats came out, it was a more subdued affair steps from the courthouse.
"We weren’t sure if we wanted to come out because, obviously, some people don’t like us. We are here to show there is support for President Trump on the bluest area in the country," said Gavin Wax, of the Young Republican Club.
A few incendiary but isolated posts also surfaced on fringe social media platforms from supporters calling for an armed confrontation with law enforcement at Trump's Florida estate, but no organized action has emerged thus far.
Some big-name fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have echoed Trump's criticisms of Bragg, blasting the district attorney for pursuing the case.
"It’s not that we are here to defend Trump, it’s equal Justice in America," said McCarthy. "This isn’t New York City, this is a borough DA...a local DA playing presidential politics. Don’t you think it’ll happen across the country."
In response to the criticisms, a spokeswoman for Bragg said "We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law."
Trump’s aides and legal team have been preparing for 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 an NYPD precinct or directly to Bragg’s office.
If the DA does secure an indictment, legal experts say there will be a slew of thorny procedural questions about how to provide a fair trial to a former president.
"If you are going to go after a person the likes of Donald Trump you better have an unbelievably rock solid case," said Arthur Aidala, an attorney who has represented big name clients such as Rudy Giuliani, Harvey Weinstein and Meek Mill. If Trump is charged, Aidala predicts the defense will immediately ask for a change of venue — but he doesn't think Trump will get one.
“We say you are supposed to be tried by a jury of your peers, but if you look at this particular case, Mr. Trump lost the island of Manhattan — where the jurors would be from — by an overwhelming margin," said Aidala.
The former president has not been charged with any crime and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. A lawyer representing Trump in a separate civil suit — in which New York Attorney General Letitia James has alleged the former president and his family falsified business earnings — said that her client "has been completely unfairly treated this is a politicization of our justice system and I think it is a frightening time for our country quite, frankly."