Donald Trump braces for potential charges in NY Hush-Money case

Donald Trump says he expects to be arrested next week (WSJ)
Donald Trump says he expects to be arrested next week (WSJ)

Summary

  • Former president urges supporters to ‘TAKE OUR NATION BACK!’

Donald Trump called on his supporters to protest in the face of expected charges against the former president in New York connected to the payment of hush money to a porn star.

Mr. Trump posted a message on his social media site Saturday morning, saying leaks indicated that he would be charged by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and arrested on Tuesday “BASED ON AN OLD & FULLY DEBUNKED (BY NUMEROUS OTHER PROSECUTORS!) FAIRYTALE."

Mr. Trump, referring to himself as “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE," wrote, “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!"

Mr. Trump hasn’t been charged. Nor have Manhattan prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s lawyers settled on a potential surrender date, according to people familiar with the grand jury investigation of the 2016 payment.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. declined to comment.

Law-enforcement officials, including from the district attorney’s office and the New York Police Department, held a meeting late this week to discuss preliminary security plans for a potential Trump indictment, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials were planning for Mr. Trump to face the charges in New York as soon as this coming week, the people said.

A grand jury has been hearing from witnesses involved in the hush-money payment and its aftermath since late January. Jurors this week heard twice from Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer who coordinated the payment. Mr. Cohen has said the former president directed him to pay off porn star and director Stormy Daniels to silence her about an alleged affair, which the former president denies.

Mr. Trump and his business reimbursed Mr. Cohen in monthly installments disguised as legal expenses for work he never performed, federal prosecutors alleged in a 2018 criminal case in which Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to his role in the payment.

Mr. Trump has said he didn’t do anything wrong. He has accused Ms. Daniels of extorting him, and Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, of seeking to hurt the former president’s electoral prospects.

The precise charges that the prosecutors are considering aren’t known, but the office has looked at charging Mr. Trump with a felony version of a state offense for falsifying business records. The offense is a low-level felony that carries no requirement of prison time. Charging that offense as a felony requires connecting it to another crime, which could bring a host of legal challenges for prosecutors.

Write to Joe Palazzolo at Joe.Palazzolo@wsj.com and Corinne Ramey at corinne.ramey@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications

Donald Trump on his social media site said, “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!" An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted the former president as saying “PROTEST, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK." (Corrected March 18)

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