WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – The former US President donald trump has called on his supporters to protest in view of his alleged imminent arrest. “Protest, take back our nation!” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social on Saturday. He will be arrested on Tuesday, Trump claimed. There was no official confirmation of this.
The New York prosecutor is investigating Trump over hush money payments to a porn actress and model. An indictment in the case seems increasingly likely. If it came to that, Trump would follow standard procedure, his attorney assured. An arrest would then not be necessary.
Trump’s call for protests brought back memories of the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when Trump goaded his supporters before they violently entered the Houses of Parliament in Washington.
What is the case?
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg investigates hush money payments to two women: model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels. Daniels says he had sex with Trump in 2006. According to his own statements, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen then paid her hush money on behalf of Trump in 2016 in order to avert damage during the election campaign. Trump and his lawyers conceded payment. However, they deny that the ex-president had an affair with the actress.
The investigators are now probably also concerned with the question of whether Trump may have violated campaign finance laws by making the payment. Hush money is not illegal in the US, but the indictment could make Daniels’ $130,000 a campaign donation illegal in New York state. Prosecutors could argue that hush money directly benefited Trump’s candidacy. A jury will decide whether to press charges after prosecutors have presented evidence. US media assume that this decision will be made in the coming days. Trump could become the first ex-president to be charged with an alleged crime. Trump announced in November that he would run for the presidency again in 2024.
How does Trump react?
Trump has repeatedly tried in the past to portray investigations against him as politically motivated and to stylize himself as an innocent victim. In a statement on Saturday, his office in New York described the case as a “witch hunt”. It is a “persecution”, not a procedure. Even before Trump’s term in office, he was repeatedly attacked by the “radical left-wing Democrats,” according to Trump’s political opponents. In his post on Truth Social on Saturday, Trump called the New York City Attorney’s office “corrupt” and “highly political.”
The chairman of the House of Representatives, the Republican Kevin McCarthy, took a similar line. He described the prosecution’s actions on Twitter on Saturday as a “disgusting abuse of power” and an act of political revenge.
Harsh criticism of Trump and his call for protests came from the Democrats. The statement was “ruthless,” said former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. No one is above the law, not even the former President of the United States. Trump just wants to make the headlines, Pelosi said. At least that’s what the 76-year-old has done brilliantly: since Trump’s announcement on Saturday, everything in the US media has once again revolved around him.
Can Trump still be president?
Trump had made it clear even before the latest developments that he had no intention of withdrawing his bid for the presidency, even if he were charged. Many months or, in extreme cases, years could pass before a possible conviction. And even a guilty verdict wouldn’t legally stop Trump from running for the 2024 election.
Whether the Republican base would be willing to rally behind a candidate charged in connection with dubious hush-money payments to a porn star remains to be seen. In the past, similarly spicy allegations have not diminished Trump’s popularity with his supporters. However, he has not yet appeared in court himself.
On Friday, the ex-president also reported on Facebook for the first time in a long time. “I’m back!” Trump wrote in a short video clip showing him winning the 2016 election. The world’s largest online network approved it again at the end of January – a good two years after the violent storming of the US Capitol by its supporters. Trump initially preferred to continue mobilizing his supporters through his own Twitter copy, Truth Social.
Is Trump involved in more legal battles?
Investigations are also underway against Trump in a number of other cases. A special prosecutor appointed by the Justice Department is investigating Trump’s role in the storming of the US Capitol and the taking of secret government documents from his tenure. In the state of Georgia, the public prosecutor’s office is investigating Trump for possible election manipulation. In one case, Trump has already been prosecuted – at least indirectly. His real estate group was fined in New York for tax fraud, among other things. The ex-president was not personally accused./htg/DP/nas