WEST PALM BEACH: Donald Trump left his Florida home on Monday for New York, where he will face criminal charges, ushering the country into the uncharted and potentially volatile territory.
The 76-year-old Republican, the first American president to face criminal charges, will be charged formally on Tuesday over hush money paid to a porn star during the 2016 election campaign.
A motorcade was seen leaving Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate at 12:20 p.m. (1620 GMT) to head to the city where he made his name, where he hopes to use his appearance before a judge to rally support for his 2024 presidential bid.
“The Corrupt D.A. has no case,” Trump said of the Manhattan district attorney prosecuting the case on his social media platform Truth Social. “What he does have is a venue where a fair trial is IMPOSSIBLE for me.”
Security cordons and Secret Service agents were stationed outside Trump Tower and the criminal court where he is scheduled to appear before a judge Tuesday afternoon.
New York Mayor Eric Adams has warned that anyone who violently protests Trump’s historic arraignment will be “arrested and held accountable, regardless of who you are.” “While some rabble-rousers may be considering coming to our city tomorrow, our message is clear and simple: ‘control yourselves,'” the mayor said.
Trump will be fingerprinted and photographed as part of his arraignment, which will almost certainly result in one of the most famous mugshots of the modern era.
There is no blueprint for a former president’s surrender to court authorities, and it remains to be seen whether Trump, who is notoriously unpredictable, will stick to the script or find a way to disrupt events.
On CNN on Sunday, Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina said, “It’s all up in the air.” Tacopina believes a “perp walk,” in which a defendant is escorted in handcuffs past media cameras, is unlikely for an ex-president under US Secret Service protection.
“Hopefully, for a situation like this, this will be as painless and classy as possible.” But Trump, who has called the legal proceedings a “witch hunt” and “political persecution,” is bracing for battle, according to Tacopina.
In the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, a grand jury indicted Trump last week. The specific charges will be revealed at the hearing on Tuesday. They center on the investigation into the $130,000 payment made to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels just days before Trump’s election victory.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and aide who has since turned against his ex-boss, claims he arranged the payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence about a 2006 tryst she claims she had with Trump.
Trump, who was already married to Melania at the time, denies having an affair. According to legal experts, if the payment is not properly accounted for, it could result in misdemeanor charges for falsifying business records, which could be upgraded to felonies if it was intended to cover up a campaign finance violation.
The Daniels case is just one of several investigations looming over Trump. An independent prosecutor is investigating Trump’s possible role in the January 6, 2021 insurgency at the US Capitol, as well as his handling and storage of classified documents after leaving the White House.
In Georgia, Trump is being investigated for pressuring officials to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, including a taped phone call in which he asked the secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn the result.