Donald Trump says he’s going to be arrested this week – so what could happen if he is?

US

Donald Trump has claimed he will be arrested this week over an alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

If right in his assertion, the former US president could be charged by authorities in New York within days.

But what will happen if he is indicted – and how will both sides present their case?

What Trump has said

In a post on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, Mr Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest the indictment.

He published a long statement describing the investigation as a “political witch-hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party”.

“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said, before criticising a “corrupt, depraved and weaponised justice system”.

However, it’s worth noting a spokesperson for Mr Trump said he had not been notified of any pending arrest.

The case – that the Republican made a payment to Ms Daniels towards the end of the 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for her silence over an alleged affair – is one of several related to Mr Trump.

Other ongoing cases include a Georgia election interference probe and two federal investigations into his role in the 6 January insurrection in the US Capitol.

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What Trump will do

Mr Trump has accused Manhattan’s district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, of targeting him for political gain, and may try to argue for the dismissal of the charges on those grounds.

He could also challenge whether the statute of limitations – five years in this instance – should have run out.

But in New York, the statute of limitations can be extended if the defendant has been out of state – Trump may argue that serving as US president should not apply.

Politically, how any possible indictment may affect Mr Trump’s chances in the 2024 presidential election is unclear.

He could be the first former US president to face criminal prosecution – right as polls show him leading other potential rivals for the Republican nomination, including controversial Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

This could lead to the unprecedented situation in which Mr Trump would stand trial as he campaigns in 2024.

If elected, he would not have the power to pardon himself of criminal charges.

In any case, Mr Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina told CNBC on Friday that he would surrender if charged. If he refused to come voluntarily, prosecutors could seek to have him extradited from Florida, where he currently lives.

In an ironic twist, as governor, Mr DeSantis would typically have to give formal approval for an extradition.

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What prosecutors will do

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has spent nearly five years investigating Mr Trump.

It has presented evidence to a New York grand jury that relates to a £114,000 ($130,000) payment to Ms Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

It is alleged the payment was given in exchange for Ms Daniels’ silence about an affair between her and Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has denied the affair and accused Ms Daniels of extortion.

Any indictment by the district attorney’s office would require Mr Trump to travel to its New York office to surrender.

But Mr Trump’s lawyers will likely arrange a date and time with authorities, as it is a white-collar case. And then his mugshot and fingerprints would be taken before appearing for arraignment in court.

Mr Trump could also be charged with falsifying business records – typically classed as a misdemeanour – after he reimbursed his former attorney Michael Cohen for the payments, falsely recorded as legal services.

To elevate it to a felony, prosecutors would have to show Mr Trump falsified records to cover up a second crime.

In any case, legal experts have estimated that any trial of the former US president would be more than a year away.

That’s why if it happened, it could coincide with the final months of a 2024 election in which Mr Trump seeks a controversial return to the White House.

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