“WITCH HUNTING as our once great country goes to HELL!” Trump said in a social media post shortly before he took off, using a familiar phrase he has used to ridicule multiple legal and legislative investigations into his conduct.
Trump plans to spend only about 24 hours in the city that was once his home, arriving at Trump Tower on 5th Avenue later in the afternoon. He said he would turn himself in Tuesday morning and then appear in court to be arraigned before New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Murchan. Trump said he will then return to Florida, where he plans to make public remarks from his Mar-a-Lago club on Tuesday night.
Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said Sunday on CNN that Trump’s legal team wants the trial to be “as painless and stylish as possible.”
Trump continued to attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who is prosecuting the case, as well as the judge handling it, in late-night social media posts Sunday. He called Bragg “corrupt” and claimed Murchan hated him.
Trump’s campaign said Monday it had raised $7 million since news of the indictment, suggesting it provided at least a short-term political boost, at least among his supporters.
Law enforcement at all levels is preparing for what could be a chaotic 24 hours, with protesters and revelers expected to pour into the area surrounding the Lower Manhattan court complex.
Secret Service agents, mostly based in New York, toured the courthouse Friday to plan Trump’s entry and exit from the building, said a law enforcement official involved in the planning.
The indictment itself — detailing the exact allegations leveled against Trump and some of the evidence gathered to support them — is expected to be unsealed on Tuesday. People familiar with the case said it involved a payment from Trump to Daniels.
They said Bragg was exploring the possibility of charging Trump with falsifying business records related to the payment to Daniels, which is a felony. Trump reimbursed then-lawyer Michael Cohen for paying Daniels, but the payments were mischaracterized as a guarantee for legal services.
In New York, the charge can be upgraded to a felony if the documents are falsified to conceal or commit another crime. In that case, Bragg’s office appears to be investigating whether business records were falsified to conceal a payment that amounted to an undisclosed campaign contribution in favor of Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.
Meanwhile, Trump has added a prominent criminal lawyer, Todd Blanch, to his legal team, a campaign adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that has not been publicly announced. Blanche is a former federal prosecutor.
Secret Service officials are extremely wary of the allegations, planning multiple routes for Trump to travel from LaGuardia Airport to his private suite in Trump Tower this afternoon and from Trump Tower to the courthouse on Tuesday, according to a law enforcement official. familiar with the plans.
There was concern within the Secret Service about Trump’s arrival in New York, which sparked an outpouring of public protests — both from his critics who advocated for his prosecution and from his supporters protesting the indictment against him.
To protect Trump, the Secret Service expects him to enter and exit the building in a way that is not visible to the public. Agents can either choose to have Trump enter through an exterior door, using the standard tented arrival – shielding Trump from public view – or through a hidden entrance.
Preliminary agents who toured the courthouse on Friday have identified several secure and underground entrances used by judges and sensitive witnesses that they can use against Trump.
Last week, Secret Service leaders were on alert for the possibility that Trump might try to hold a news conference in New York before or after the indictments, hoping to be the first to pick up on the allegations against him and galvanize his supporters, a current and former Secret Service official said. law enforcement, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security planning.
They are greatly relieved that Trump was encouraged by advisers to instead host a news event at a much more secure site: his own private club. His press conference is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET on Tuesday.
At a town hall briefing before Trump left Florida on Monday, New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) and NYPD Commissioner Kichant Sewell said there would be street closures around the city and a heightened police presence around the courthouse. They also said violence by demonstrators would not be tolerated.
Adams noted that a particular security concern in the city on Tuesday was violence inspired by misinformation.
“While we don’t have specific threats, people like Marjorie Taylor Green, who is known to spread misinformation and hate speech, she said she’s coming to town,” Adams said, referring to the Republican congresswoman from Georgia, who encouraged people to join her in protesting Trump’s impeachment on Tuesday.
Adams said that given his own police experience, he wasn’t overly concerned about security challenges Tuesday.
“People keep mixing things up. If you are prepared, you don’t have to I receive prepared,” he said. “And we are prepared.”
More than 100 Trump supporters gathered earlier Monday morning at a strip mall across from a West Palm Beach laundromat to wait for the former president’s motorcade to pass on its way to Palm Beach International Airport.
Ronald Solomon, president of MAGA Mall — a Trump pop-up store — was doing brisk business in the parking lot hours before Trump’s motorcade rolled through.
“I haven’t even finished the setup and I’ve already made $300,” Solomon said as he hung hats and flags to display behind his car. “Business has been booming since they came out with that stupid charge, the goods have been flying out of here.”
Lori Rosa in West Palm Beach, Florida, Shayna Jacobs in New York and Josh Dawsey in Washington contributed to this report.