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 an indictment in a case investigating hush money paid to women who had sexual encounters with the former president claimed. Trump offered no evidence to suggest he had been notified directly of an impending arrest and did not say how he was aware of such plans.
But in a Saturday morning post on his Truth Social network, Trump noted “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which he says 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 “refuse to confirm or comment” on questions related to Trump’s post, as well as potential charges. A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
The indictment against the 76-year-old Trump would be an extraordinary development after years of investigation into his business, political and personal dealings. It will likely excite critics who say Trump, a 2024 presidential candidate, lied and cheated his way to the top, and will embolden supporters who believe the Republican has been 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 urged his followers to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” That language evoked the then-President’s message that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, when his supporters broke through doors and windows of that building, leaving officers beaten and bloodied as they attempted to obtain the certification of the election.
Law enforcement in New York has made 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 on the case, including any vote on whether or not to indict the ex-president.
Trump’s message echoes one posted last summer when he broke the news on Truth Social that the FBI was searching his home as part of an investigation into possible mishandling of classified documents.
The Manhattan grand jury has heard witnesses, including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments to two women in 2016 to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier .
Trump denies the meetings took place, says he did nothing wrong and has portrayed the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 presidential campaign.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg apparently investigated whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work in keeping the women’s allegations quiet.
Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokesperson Hope Hicks — are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.
Cohen has said he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal at Trump’s direction. According to Cohen, the payouts were intended to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the middle 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 alleged expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal fees. 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 parent company in exchange for its cooperation with 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 the election effort from Trump.
Cohen pleaded guilty, served jail time, and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crime. ___
Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.