By MICHELLE L. PRICE and JILL COLVIN (Associated Press)
NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump said in a social media post that he expects to be arrested Tuesday as a New York prosecutor is eyeing charges in a case examining hush money paid to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president. Trump provided no evidence that suggested he was directly informed of a pending arrest and did not say how he knew of such plans.
But in a Saturday morning message on his Truth Social network, Trump noted “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan district attorney’s office that he said indicate “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.”
Danielle Filson of the district attorney’s office said prosecutors “will decline to confirm or comment” on questions pertaining to Trump’s post, as well as potential charges. A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
The indictment of Trump, 76, would be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings. It is likely to galvanize critics who say Trump, a 2024 presidential candidate, lied and cheated his way to the top and to embolden supporters who feel the Republican is being unfairly targeted by a Democratic prosecutor.
In his social media post, Trump repeated his lies that the 2020 presidential election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden was stolen and he urged his followers to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” That language evoked the message from the then-president that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 when his supporters broke through doors and windows of that building and left officers beaten and bloodied as they tried to stop the certification of the election.
Law enforcement officials in New York have been making security preparations for the possibility that Trump could be indicted.
There has been no public announcement of any time frame for the grand jury’s secret work in the case, including any potential vote on whether to indict the ex-president.
Trump’s posting echoes one made last summer when he broke the news on Truth Social that the FBI was searching his home as part of an investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents.
The grand jury in Manhattan has been hearing from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump denies the encounters occurred, says he did nothing wrong and has cast the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 presidential campaign.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has apparently been examining whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.
Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — onetime political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokesperson Hope Hicks — are among witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen has said that at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payouts were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the thick of his first presidential campaign.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for the $130,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other supposed expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which kept her story from coming to light.
Federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute the Enquirer’s corporate parent in exchange for its cooperation in a campaign finance investigation that led to charges against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougal amounted to impermissible, unrecorded gifts to Trump’s election effort.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served prison time and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors never charged Trump with any crime. ___
Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.
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