The Manhattan district attorney widely expected to bring an indictment against Donald Trump this week has vowed that his staff will not be intimidated after the former US president called for his supporters to protest any action against him.
Trump triggered a flurry of frantic headlines and statements from his political allies on Saturday when he posted a message on social media claiming he was set to be arrested this Tuesday on charges of hush payments to adult actor Stormy Daniels.
An indictment from the office of Alvin Bragg is widely expected this week but officials, and Trump’s lawyers, have clarified they have no certainty as to timing or what actually will happen in court.
But Bragg sent an email to his office, obtained by Politico, that did not mention Trump by name but that did appear to address the case, including widespread security fears around lower Manhattan courts in the wake of any indictment.
“As with all of our investigations, we will continue to apply the law evenly and fairly, and speak publicly only when appropriate,” Bragg wrote.
He added: “We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York… Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place so all 1,600 of us have a secure work environment.”
On Saturday afternoon, Trump supporters gathered at his Mar-a-Lago home and country club in Florida to show their support. Trump later boarded a private jet to fly from Palm Beach to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to attend a college wrestling tournament.
Trump made no mention of a criminal indictment and arrest at the Tulsa event. He appeared alongside Senator Markwayne Mullin, congratulated the wrestlers and posed for pictures with supporters, according to pictures published by Tulsa World.
Trump and Mullin sat in a boxed-off area and stayed for all 10 matches, while Mullin, a former wrestler, explained the finer points of the sport. Trump talked with fans between matches, but reporters were kept away.
Speaking before Trump’s arrival, Mullin appeared to compare the likely charges against Trump with unproven and largely discredited claims that former secretary of state Hilary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 opponent, committed criminal security breaches while she served in the Obama administration.
“They’ve been after the president (Trump) since Day 1,” Mullin was reported to have remarked. “Everybody sees this for what it is. It’s not what this country is about. We had an opportunity to get after Hilary, … and we didn’t.”
“The [Manhattan] district attorney needs to concentrate on putting bad guys in jail,” he added.
It was Trump’s first public appearance since he said in a social media post that he would be arrested over the payments made to Daniels, a month before the 2016 presidential election. If any indictment is handed down, it is likely to claim the payments were an illegal use of campaign finances.
Trump received a standing ovation in Tulsa and held up a defiant fist as he arrived at the wrestling event while fans cheered. Earlier on Saturday, Trump had urged his supporters to “protest, protest, protest” in comments made on his Truth Social platform.
Insider has reported that the grand jury looking at the case may still listen to one further witness on Monday, raising the prospect of any indictment coming later in the week.
Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney and “fixer” who was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion and campaign-finance violations, said that Trump’s comments signaled a desire for “another violent clash”.
“It’s eerily similar to the battle cry that he put out just prior to the Jan 6 insurrection, you know, especially including the call, you know, for protest,” Cohen told MSNBC. Cohen added that “it would have been smart for Donald to write ‘peaceful protest’, but he doesn’t want a peaceful protest”.
Cohen also theorized that Trump would see his arrest as a potential boost to his 2024 presidential campaign as he frequently has sought to portray himself as at the center of a political “witch hunt”.