Former US President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed that he will be arrested on Tuesday by the Manhattan District Attorney.
In language evoking his condcut in moments preceding the attack on US Capitol in 2021, Trump urged his supporters to protest and "take the country back".
In a post on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump said, "With no crime being able to be proven and based on an old and fully debunked (by numerous other prosecutors) fairytale, the far and away leading Republican candidate and former President of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday of next week. Protest, take our nation back!"
Trump claimed his impending arrest is a motivated ploy by the Manhattan District Attorney "funded by George Soros" — the same billionaire in the crosshairs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and BJP-led Government of India.
What's the case about?
Former US President Donald Trump is under investigation over the payment of alleged hush money to adult film actor Stormy Daniels.
Daniels has in the past alleged that she and Trump had an affair around a decade ago and that she was paid $130,000 to stay quiet about it in 2016. While such hush money is not illegal and is not under investigation, the process of the payment is under investigation.
It's alleged that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid the hush money to Daniels and was later reimbursed by a Trump business entity. It's the irregularity in this reimbursement that's under investigation that began when Trump was still in White House.
The CNN says, "At issue in the investigation is the payment made to Daniels and the Trump Organization's reimbursement to Cohen. According to court filings in Cohen's own federal prosecution, Trump Org executives authorised payments to him totaling $420,000 to cover his original $130,000 payment and tax liabilities and reward him with a bonus."
It's the falsification of business records over the transactions that is under investigation, notes CNN.
CNN further says, "Prosecutors are weighing whether to charge Trump with falsifying the business records of the Trump Organization for how it reflected the reimbursement of the payment to Cohen, who said he advanced the money to Daniels. Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York.
"Prosecutors are also weighing whether to charge Trump with falsifying business records in the first degree for falsifying a record with the intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal another crime, which in this case could be a violation of campaign finance laws. That is a Class E felony and carries a sentence of a minimum of one year and as much as four years. To prove the case, prosecutors would need to show Trump intended to commit a crime."
Is Trump going to be arrested?
The Associated Press reported that messages left on Saturday with the district attorney's office were not immediately returned. Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
Trump did not provide any details on social media about how he knew about the expected arrest. In his postings, he 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!"
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 Federal Bureau of Investigation (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 and 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 USD 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.
Reactions to Trump's post
The Republican leaders have criticised the possibility of Trump's arrest and anti-Trump political observer said such an action would further boost Trump and his fellow Republicans.
Republican Congressman Vivek Ramaswamy on Twitter said that the indictment of Trump "would be a national disaster" and called the alleged use of police power to arrest political power by the ruling Democratic Party as "un-American".
"If a Republican prosecutor in 2004 had used a campaign finance technicality to arrest then-candidate John Kerry while Bush and Cheney were in power, liberals would have cried foul - and rightly so. Principles go beyond partisanship. Let the American people decide who governs," said Ramaswamy, who has also announced his presidential bid.
He further said, "This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself. I call on the Manhattan District Attorney to reconsider this action and to put aside partisan politics in service of preserving our Constitutional republic."
The Lincoln Project's Founder Rick Wilson tweeted that arrest of Trump would lead to supporters rallying politically and physically around Trump.
Just to calibrate expectations:— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) March 18, 2023
1. The arrest secures the nomination for Donald Trump.
2. The base will rally politically, and possibly physically. (Let me know how that goes.)
3. The gentry GOP will double down now on DeSantis, to no avail.
(With AP inputs)