WEST BEACH: Donald Trump left Florida on Monday for New York where he will surrender to criminal charges, taking the United States into uncharted and potentially volatile territory.
The 76-year-old Republican, the first American president ever to be criminally indicted, will be formally charged on Tuesday over hush money paid to a porn star during the 2016 election campaign.
Dozens of people, many waving pro-Trump banners and American flags, lined the route as Trump’s motorcade raced from his Florida mansion to the airport where he boarded his private Boeing 757 emblazoned with his name on the fuselage.
Trump was seen waving to the press as he boarded the plane, bound for the city where he made his name, and where he hopes to use his appearance before a judge to rouse support for his 2024 White House bid.
“HEADING TO NEW YORK. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!,” Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social, minutes before he took off at 1pm (local time).
“WITCH HUNT, as our once great Country is going to HELL!” New York police were on high alert ahead of Trump’s arrival, with security cordons and Secret Service agents outside Trump Tower and the criminal court where he will appear before a judge on Tuesday afternoon.
New York Mayor Eric Adams warned that anyone protesting violently during Trump’s historic arraignment will be “arrested and held accountable, no matter who you are.” “While there may be some rabble rousers thinking about coming to our city tomorrow our message is clear, is simple: ‘control yourselves’,” the mayor told a press conference, adding that there were no specific, credible threats.
As part of his arraignment, Trump will undergo the standard booking procedure of being fingerprinted and photographed, likely to result in one of the most famous mugshots of the modern era.
There is no roadmap for a former president’s surrender to court authorities, and it remains to be seen whether the famously unpredictable Trump will follow the script, or find a way to upend events.
“It’s all up in the air,” Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina said on CNN Sunday.
But a “perp walk” — in which a defendant is escorted in handcuffs past media cameras — is unlikely for an ex-president under US Secret Service protection, Tacopina said.
“Hopefully this will be as painless and classy as possible for a situation like this.” But Trump, who has denounced the legal proceedings as a “witch hunt” and “political persecution, is girding for battle, Tacopina added.
A grand jury indicted Trump last week in the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat.
The specific charges will be revealed during Tuesday’s hearing. They revolve around the investigation of $130,000 paid to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels just days before Trump’s election win.
Trump’s former lawyer and aide Michael Cohen, who has since turned against his ex-boss, says he arranged the payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence about a tryst she says she had with Trump in 2006.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2023