Former President Donald J. Trump is preparing to walk into a Manhattan courtroom as both a defendant and a candidate, making final plans for his arrest on Tuesday while also trying to maximize his surrender for political benefit. Officials in New York, meanwhile, are bracing for the circuslike atmosphere that expected protests might bring.
The Trump campaign on Sunday scheduled a prime-time news conference at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night, just hours after Mr. Trump is expected to turn himself in. The campaign also has been using his indictment in fund-raising appeals, and said it had raised $4 million in just 24 hours, though financial records corroborating the claim will not be available for weeks.
The planning reflects Mr. Trump’s belief that the indictment will ultimately bolster his standing in his third bid for the G.O.P. presidential nomination, with Republicans who had been considering alternatives rallying to his side. His recent polling has been among the strongest of his 2024 campaign.
On Sunday, some Trump critics came to his defense, suggesting that the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, might have targeted him unfairly. The actual crimes Mr. Trump is accused of are not publicly known, though they are believed to be related to a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, a former porn star who claims she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The indictment, news of which broke on Thursday, may not be unsealed before his arraignment.
Mr. Trump is expected to fly into La Guardia Airport from Florida on his private plane on Monday afternoon, and then stay the night at his apartment in Trump Tower, meeting with his lawyers while there. Aides are trying to negotiate a short visit to the courthouse in Lower Manhattan, for a midafternoon arraignment, people familiar with his plans said.
The next few days could be critical for Mr. Trump, and advisers have warned him that he could easily damage his own case, according to a person involved in the discussions who requested anonymity because the talks were private. He wrote an especially incendiary post on his social media site, Truth Social, that featured a news article with a photo of Mr. Bragg on one side and Mr. Trump holding a baseball bat on the other. It was eventually taken down, after pleading by advisers. And he has already attacked the judge — comments his lawyers tried to smooth over in appearances on the morning talk shows on Sunday.
Mr. Trump kept a typical schedule over the weekend.
On Friday night, he attended a housewarming event for an associate near Mar-a-Lago, his home in Palm Beach, Fla. He golfed on Saturday and spent time with Gary Player, the South African retired professional golfer, at the nearby Trump International Golf Club, and dined at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night (his legal adviser, Boris Epshteyn, was spotted nearby in a three-piece suit). Mr. Trump has been relatively calm, according to people who have spoken with him, exhibiting little of the anxiety he had in the lead-up to the indictment.
When he arrives in court, Mr. Trump, unlike typical defendants, will be surrounded by a phalanx of Secret Service agents, making all logistics much more complicated. He will be fingerprinted and will possibly have a police photo taken; such photos are typically not released publicly in New York, although the intense public interest in this case could change that. While it is normal for defendants charged with felonies to be handcuffed — as the former Trump Organization chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, was in 2021 — one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, has said he does not expect that to occur.
Before the arraignment, Mr. Trump is likely to be held in an interview room as opposed to a cell, according to the person involved in the Trump team’s discussions. He will then enter a courtroom and make his plea, which is expected to be not guilty. While there is expected to be at least one camera set up in the courthouse hallway capturing Mr. Trump’s walk to the courtroom, cameras are typically not allowed in New York courtrooms. However, news organizations have asked the judge to make an exception.
The Indictment of Donald Trump in New York
Law enforcement officials were preparing for a chaotic atmosphere, with protests around Trump Tower and near the courthouse. Barricades were set up near Mr. Trump’s office tower, stretching several blocks.
Police officers were warned that they might be called on for crowd control around the courthouse. And the presence of what is likely the most famous defendant the Manhattan Criminal Court has ever seen, with his own unique security needs, has led to all kinds of changes in how the courthouse will function that day.
Still, despite concerns about potential for violence, particularly after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building by a pro-Trump mob, there were few signs that a repeat was likely.
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Mr. Trump’s advisers have been trying to impress upon him the need to avoid rousing his supporters in a way that leads to violence, people close to the former president have said.
On Sunday, Mr. Tacopina and another of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Jim Trusty, appeared on television programs and tried to tamp down any inflammation their client might have caused on social media, particularly through his attacks on the judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, an acting New York Supreme Court justice. Mr. Trump has claimed Justice Merchan, who also presided over the trial of the Trump Organization last year, was “hand picked” by prosecutors. And last week, Mr. Trump declared on Truth Social that Justice Merchan “hates me.”
“I have no issue with this judge whatsoever,” Mr. Tacopina said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He has a very good reputation.”
Mr. Tacopina has otherwise aggressively defended Mr. Trump on television, and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have privately complained that the lawyer is not helping his client’s cause. Mr. Trump, whose legal team is in flux, has told several people he thinks Mr. Tacopina is a “fighter.”
As he heads into this consequential week, Mr. Trump finds himself in the unusual position of receiving support from nearly all factions of the Republican Party; even officials he considers enemies have condemned Mr. Bragg’s pursuit of Mr. Trump.
“This seems to be more about the person than about the crime,” Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, said on “Fox News Sunday.” Mr. Cassidy voted to convict Mr. Trump for his role instigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Another surprising defender emerged in William P. Barr, the former attorney general who fell out bitterly with Mr. Trump because Mr. Barr refused to go along with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In a “Fox News Sunday” interview, Mr. Barr sharply criticized Mr. Bragg’s indictment and predicted it would set off a wave of politically motivated prosecutions.
“I do think that this is a watershed moment, and I don’t think it’s going to end up good for the country,” he added.
Mr. Barr did, however, offer some tongue-in-cheek advice for his former boss, who faces multiple investigations that may result in charges: It would be a “particularly bad idea” for Mr. Trump to appear on the stand.
“He lacks all self-control,” Mr. Barr said. “And it would be very difficult to prepare him and keep him testifying in a prudent fashion.”
To that end, Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney who preceded Mr. Bragg and whose office led most of the investigation into the practices of Mr. Trump’s business, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was “disturbed” that Mr. Trump had been attacking not just Mr. Bragg but also the judge in the case.
Mr. Vance said, “I think if I were his lawyer — and believe me, no one has called up to ask for my advice — I would be mindful of not committing some other criminal offense like obstruction of governmental administration, which is interfering, by threat or otherwise, with the operation of government.”
Mr. Bragg has said little publicly about the investigation or the criticisms leveled at him by Republicans. Last week, his office, in a letter to congressional Republicans who have threatened to investigate the actions of the district attorney’s office, said accusations that the investigation was politically motivated were “unfounded.” The letter, signed by the office’s general counsel, Leslie B. Dubeck, said that the charges against Mr. Trump “were brought by citizens of New York, doing their civic duty as members of a grand jury.”
Knowing that Mr. Bragg is expected to hold a news conference at some point on Tuesday, Mr. Trump has scheduled his own for that evening, when he plans to be back at Mar-a-Lago. He is also expected to deliver remarks to supporters at his club, similar to his event last November announcing his third run for president.
Some Trump allies have made clear they want any protests in New York to remain civil, particularly because Mr. Trump has called for his supporters to protest. His longest-serving adviser, Roger J. Stone Jr., urged supporters to be “peaceful” and “legal” if they showed up for a planned rally outside Trump Tower late Monday morning.
Reporting was contributed by William K. Rashbaum, Jesse McKinley, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Alyce McFadden and Liset Cruz.
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