Former US president Donald Trump says he expects to be arrested on Tuesday, calling on his supporters to protest as New York law enforcement prepares for a possible indictment against him.
In a social media post early Sunday Australian time, Mr Trump said the “leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday of next week”.
“Protest, take our nation back,” he wrote.
CNN has reported that meetings took place last week between New York, state and federal law enforcement agencies about how to prepare for a possible indictment of Mr Trump in connection with an investigation into hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Any indictment of the former president, who is running for reelection in 2024, would mark an historic first.
While Mr Trump has an extensive history of civil litigation both before and after taking office, a criminal charge would represent a dramatic escalation of his legal woes as he works to recapture the White House.
Mr Trump said, without providing evidence, that “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan district attorney’s office indicated that he would be arrested. He did not say what the charges would be.
His call for a protest against his potential arrest is reminiscent of his final days in office in 2021, when he repeatedly urged supporters to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election, leading to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
“Illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan district attorney’s office … indicate that, with no crime being able to be proven … the far & away leading Republican candidate & former president of the United States of America, will be arrested on Tuesday of next week,” Trump wrote.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Mr Trump’s claim of impending arrest comes amid reports that law enforcement officials in New York are making security preparations for the possibility the former president could appear in a Manhattan courtroom in the coming weeks.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office earlier this year began presenting evidence to a grand jury investigating a $US130,000 ($192,309) payment that Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, made to porn star Stormy Daniels in the lead up to the 2016 US election.
Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she had an affair with Mr Trump a decade earlier. Mr Trump has denied the affair happened.
Mr Trump was Republican president from 2017 to 2021 and has said he will make a bid to return to the White House in the 2024 US presidential election.
Mr Bragg’s office earlier this month invited Mr Trump to testify before the grand jury probing the hush money payments, according to Mr Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles. Legal experts said that was a sign that an indictment was close.
Mr Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal campaign finance violations tied to his arranging payments to Ms Daniels and another woman, among other crimes. He has said Mr Trump directed him to make the payments. The US Attorney’s office in Manhattan did not charge Mr Trump with a crime.
Mr Cohen testified before the grand jury on Monday and again on Wednesday, according to his lawyer, Lanny Davis. Grand jury proceedings are not public.
Ms Daniels’ lawyer said she spoke with prosecutors last week.
The probe is one of several legal challenges Mr Trump faces as he seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency.
Mr Trump is also confronting a state-level criminal probe in Georgia over efforts to overturn the 2020 results in that state.
A special counsel named by US Attorney General Merrick Garland is currently investigating Mr Trump’s handling of classified government documents after leaving office, as well as his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden, a Democrat.
Mr Bragg’s office last year won the conviction of the Trump Organization on tax fraud charges. But Mr Bragg declined to charge Mr Trump himself with financial crimes related to his business practices, prompting two prosecutors who worked on the probe to resign.
Mr Trump leads his early rivals for his party’s presidential nomination, holding the support of 43 per cent of Republicans in a February Reuters/Ipsos poll, compared with 31 per cent for his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is yet to announce his candidacy.
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