Law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels have met to discuss the possibility that Donald Trump may be indicted as early as next week over a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, after the former president urged his supporters to protest if he is arrested.
More than a dozen senior figures in the New York Police Department (NYPD) and two public safety aides to the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, held a virtual meeting on Sunday, The New York Times reports.
Preparations have reportedly been under way since last week. Preliminary security assessments were being conducted, and officials were discussing potential security plans in the vicinity of the Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street in case Mr Trump appears in person to face charges, reported NBC News. The broadcaster cited five senior officials familiar with the preparations.
Barriers were erected outside the court on Monday ahead of the expected testimony of Robert Costello, who said he was appearing at the request of the former president’s legal team. He will reportedly dispute claims by Mr Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen relating to a $130,000 (£106,000) payment made to adult film actor Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.
The former president has urged his supporters to “protest” over his imminent “arrest” in the Manhattan case, in a furious Truth Social post on 18 March, claiming that “illegal leaks” have indicated that he will be arrested on 21 March.
Officials are reported to have stressed that any planning is precautionary as no charges have yet been filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
While Mr Trump has repeatedly attacked the New York investigation on his Truth Social platform, a lengthy official statement from his team suggests that he is growing increasingly concerned that a criminal indictment may be just around the corner.
Campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung released a statement on 16 March slamming Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s office over what the Trump team claims is a “witch hunt” against the one-term president.
“President Donald J Trump is completely innocent, he did nothing wrong, and even the biggest, most radical left Democrats are making that clear,” Mr Cheung said.
Last week – the same week in which Daniels and Mr Trump’s former fixer Mr Cohen testified before the grand jury – Mr Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina went on a media blitz, criticising the investigation in a number of testy exchanges with journalists.
DA Bragg’s office also invited Mr Trump to testify last week – an invitation he unsurprisingly turned down.
While it was an invitation he was unlikely to accept, it sent the clearest signal to date that he could be criminally indicted for his role in the hush money payment made to Daniels.
Under New York law, a person has a right to appear before a grand jury before a prosecutor asks the grand jury to indict them on charges.
Manhattan prosecutors have been investigating whether Mr Trump falsified the Trump Organization’s business records when Mr Cohen made a $130,000 payment to Daniels days before the 2016 election. Prosecutors claim that the money was used to silence Daniels about an alleged affair she had with Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has long denied having an affair with the adult film star. If prosecuted, he would become the first former president in American history to face criminal charges.
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