Donald Trump Likely To Be Arrested Today Over Hush-Money Payment To Adult Film Star Stormy Daniels

New York: Activists set up barricades around the Manhattan Courthouse on Monday for the possible indictment of Donald Trump for allegedly secretly funding porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign, in New York City. This would be the first criminal case against a US President. On Saturday, Trump urged followers on social media to protest what he said was getting him arrested. In his call for the protest, Trump raised concerns for law enforcement that supporters could engage in violence similar to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol in Washington.

Fearing a trap, however, many far-right grassroots groups have chosen not to heed his call, security analysts said.

A grand jury, which heard further testimony on Monday, could indict as soon as this week. Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the White House again in 2024, predicted he would be arrested on Tuesday.

On Monday the grand jury heard from a witness, attorney Robert Costello, who said former Trump fixer Michael Cohen handled the hush-money payments without Trump’s involvement.

Costello told reporters after testifying to the grand jury at the request of Trump’s lawyers, “Michael Cohen decided on his own — that’s what he told us — on his own, to see if he could take care of ”

Cohen, who testified twice before a grand jury, has said publicly that Trump instructed him to make the payments on Trump’s behalf.

An impeachment could hurt Trump’s comeback effort. Nearly 44% of Republicans say he should drop out of the presidential race if convicted, according to a seven-day Reuters/Ipsos poll that ended Monday.

The investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is one of several legal challenges facing Trump. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal campaign finance violations involving Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, and a payment arrangement in exchange for her silence about her alleged affairs with Trump.

Trump has denied that such a thing happened.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had asked Cohen to be available as a rebuttal witness, but he was told Monday afternoon that his testimony was not needed, according to his attorney, Lanny Davis. Cohen told MSNBC that he had not been asked to return on Wednesday.

New York Mayor Eric Adams told reporters that police were monitoring social media and watching for “inappropriate actions” in the city. The New York Police Department said there was no known credible threat.

If indicted, Trump may have to travel from his Florida home for fingerprinting and other processing. Several media outlets reported that law enforcement officials met on Monday to discuss logistics.

Sources have said Bragg’s office was presenting evidence to a grand jury about the $130,000 payment made to Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.

Trump’s fellow Republicans have widely criticized the politically motivated investigation.

Trump’s rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, said Monday that Bragg was imposing a “political agenda” that compromised the rule of law, but he also took a dig at Trump.

“I don’t know what goes into secretly paying a porn star to keep quiet about some kind of alleged affair,” he told reporters.

Republicans in the US House of Representatives launched an investigation of Bragg’s office with a letter demanding communications, documents and testimony related to the investigation.

Trump and other Republicans have also said the Manhattan District Attorney’s office should focus more on combating crime.

Asked to comment on the letter, a spokesperson for the DA’s office, citing statistics showing homicides and shootings have decreased this year, said:

“We will not be intimidated by attempts to subvert the justice process, nor will we let unfounded allegations deter the impartial application of the law.”

Trump was impeached twice by the House during his presidency, once in 2019 over his conduct regarding Ukraine and again in 2021 over the attack on the US Capitol by his supporters. He was acquitted by the Senate both times.

Bragg last December won a conviction against Trump’s business on tax fraud charges.

But legal analysts say the hush-money case could be more difficult. Experts say Bragg’s office will have to prove Trump intended to commit the crime, and his attorneys will launch a series of counterattacks to try to get the case dismissed.

Meanwhile, Trump faces other legal challenges, raising the prospect that he will have to shuttle between campaign stops and courtrooms before the November 2024 election.

Trump’s lawyers asked a Georgia court on Monday to quash a special grand jury report detailing an investigation into his alleged efforts to overturn his 2020 statewide election defeat.

The filing in Fulton County Superior Court also sought to recuse County District Attorney Fannie Willis from the case, saying her media appearances and social media posts demonstrated a bias against Trump.

Trump is also seeking to delay a civil fraud trial set for October 2 brought by New York’s attorney general, alleging a decades-long conspiracy to manipulate the value of his assets in order to win better terms from bankers and insurers. The scheme has been alleged.

Trump faces two civil lawsuits involving former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, who claims Trump defamed her by denying he raped her. A federal judge on Monday rejected requests from both sides to combine the two cases into one.