Sensitive talks underway over possible Trump arrest next week

Former President Donald Trump looks determined against the backdrop of the Stars and Stripes.

Former President Donald Trump raises his fist as he departs after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference at CPAC 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 4. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has been skeptical with the Secret Service about the possible arrest of former President Donald Trump next week on charges of illegally paying a porn star to silence her over allegations of sexual harassment. Negotiations are underway, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Trump posted a message on social media on Saturday he expected to be arrested on TuesdayHe called on his supporters to “protest and take back our country!”

The president’s attorneys had been informed that an indictment could take place as early as Tuesday, but an indictment is likely later in the week, sources said. Before that, I would like to have one more witness before the grand jury.

The main question at the moment is how to formulate the procedure for an unusual and unprecedented scenario: arrest a defendant who happens to be a former president and protected by a group of Secret Service agents, and fingerprint them. is collected and handcuffed according to standard procedures. .

Amid heightened security concerns, Bragg’s prosecutors are negotiating with the Secret Service and other federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the New York City Police Department, on how to handle Trump’s arrest. I am standing in front of you.

Standard procedure, when indicted, is that a defendant like Trump is taken to a New York City courthouse in lower Manhattan and taken to a processing room where they are briefly put in a cell, booked, and fingerprinted. taken and photographed for mugshots. and handcuffs. He was then escorted by elevator to an upper floor where he was handcuffed and taken to a courtroom where his arraignment was performed in full view of the media. This is equivalent to a “purp walk”.

Trump posted on Truth Social that he would be arrested this week

Trump posted on Truth Social on Saturday that he expects to be arrested this week. (Social media via Reuters)

But Trump is no standard defendant. By law, he is always protected by agents of his service in secret. Prosecutors are still debating whether Trump should be allowed to be escorted into court without handcuffs by Secret Service agents rather than courtroom guards. The sources said they are trying to clarify a number of security issues, including fears that “silly jobs” within the court will attempt to disrupt proceedings.

The final resolution of that and related issues is up to Bragg, but sources say the situation is still “fluid” and no major issues have been resolved.

For many legal experts, even greater questions remain about the strength of Bragg’s claims. It concerns about $130,000 paid by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to former porn star Stormy Daniels towards the end of the 2016 campaign.

After consulting with Trump, the payments Cohen arranged were listed as “legal costs” inside the Trump Organization. Bragg’s prosecutors plan to charge it illegal under New York law against falsification of business records.

Michael Cohen surrounded by reporters and their equipment.

Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen speaks to reporters as he arrives in New York courthouse on March 15. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

But the charge is a misdemeanor unless it is shown to be part of a potential crime. and is preparing to claim that it violated New York election law.

But it remains an untested legal theory. Contributions to presidential campaigns are governed by federal elections law, and it’s not clear whether New York’s election law can be expanded to include spending on presidential campaigns.

A source familiar with the case acknowledged that Trump’s lawyers were likely to contest the indictment on these grounds, among others, and that a judge could ultimately agree and “revert this to a misdemeanor.” .