New York police heightened security on Monday in anticipation of a potentially historic indictment against Donald Trump for his payment of hush money to a pornographic actress. The ex-president called for mass demonstrations if he is charged.
Despite the former president’s call for mass demonstrations, only a few dozen Trump supporters showed up for a protest in America’s financial capital on Monday evening though, as a grand jury weighs an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over the 2016 payment to Stormy Daniels.
If an indictment is filed, Trump would become the first former or sitting president to be charged with a crime.
Bragg, an elected Democrat, has not confirmed any plans publicly, but has put key witnesses in front of the jury in recent weeks and offered Trump the opportunity to testify.
Trump said over the weekend that he expects to be “arrested” on Tuesday and urged supporters to “Protest, take our nation back!” although his lawyer said the comments were based on media reports and not any fresh action by prosecutors.
Some US media said the panel could vote to indict when it returns on Wednesday after it interviewed its final witness, lawyer Robert Costello, on Monday.
The NYPD geared up for an unprecedented arrest, which would see an ex-leader of the United States fingerprinted and possibly even handcuffed, by erecting barricades outside Bragg’s office and Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
More than a dozen senior police officials met with mayoral aides on Sunday to discuss security and contingency plans for protests, the New York Times reported.
NBC News said police and other law enforcement agencies had conducted “preliminary security assessments,” including placing a security perimeter around the Manhattan Criminal Court where Trump would likely appear before a judge.
Senior Democrats have warned that Trump’s calls could trigger a repeat of the violence that his supporters unleashed on the US Capitol in January 2021.
In an online group named “The Donald,” some Trump supporters called for a “national strike” and “Civil War 2.0” to protect Trump and protest any arrest.
But there was no indication of a large movement and figureheads for Trump such as his sons and leading commentators have not openly urged action in the streets as they did after the 2020 election, when President Joe Biden defeated Trump.
A small protest organized by the New York Young Republican Club in lower Manhattan passed peacefully.