eatFormer President Donald Trump says his indictment by the Manhattan district attorney over alleged hush money payments is imminent, suggesting on Saturday that it could come as early as Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Alvin Bragg did not comment on Trump’s allegations, and a Trump spokesman later clarified that Trump had not received any notice that an indictment was imminent.
However, Trump’s comments underscore the possibility that he could face arrest for the first time. Trump was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in early March. The offer to testify, which Trump refused, is required before any indictment.
The investigation focuses on cash paid to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 before Trump won the election. Daniels says she had an affair with Trump. Trump denies this.
In the context of Bragg’s research, Trump could face charges of falsifying business records when he allegedly reimbursed his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen for paying off Daniels. The hush agreement, reportedly drawn up weeks before his presidential victory, could also put Trump at risk of violating campaign finance laws.
The prospect of Trump’s arrest — the first ever for a former president — raises questions about the process Trump will be subject to during his arrest and trial — including whether extraordinary measures will be taken because of his unique position.
TIME spoke with legal experts about each step of the process and how Trump’s indictment may play out differently than criminal cases.
The charges Trump will likely face are for white-collar crimes related to financial transactions, and given their non-violent nature, defendants in such cases typically “self-turn themselves in,” skipping public walks.
Shanlon Wu, a white-collar defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, tells TIME that defense boards typically receive notice when their clients are indicted. “You’ll make an appointment basically, to bring your client in for booking and fingerprinting,” says Wu.
Wu adds that Trump’s lawyers may even ask for some special arrangements, given that he is a former president, to avoid walking through the front entrance of the courthouse or police station in an effort to be more discreet. On Friday, Trump’s attorney said that if charged, Trump would not resist arrest and that normal procedures would follow. “There will be no confrontation at Mar-a-Lago with the Secret Service and the Manhattan DA’s office,” Joe Tacopina said in New York. Daily NEWS.
If indicted, Trump would have to go through the same process of being jailed, fingerprinted and mug shot. But given Trump’s substantial ties to the community, especially his ongoing 2024 presidential campaign, the judge likely wouldn’t consider him a flight risk and would likely release him immediately on bail, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti tells TIME.
In a post on Truth Social on Saturday morning, Trump claimed his arrest was imminent and called on his supporters to protest, citing “illegal leaks” from a “corrupt” and “highly politicized Manhattan DA’s office.”
Law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels are working to prepare Manhattan Criminal Court for a possible indictment of Trump, NBC News reported Friday, citing unnamed sources. According to NBC, the New York Police Department, New York State Troopers, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Secret Service and the FBI are all involved.
Wu doesn’t expect many unusual logistics in the proceedings if Trump is indicted, but he believes security will be increased — similar to measures for other high-profile political figures or celebrities. “Sometimes we see a huge flood of cameras and reporters at the front of the courthouse,” he says. “With a former president, the Secret Service would probably have some sort of control mechanism for that, because otherwise, you don’t know who’s in the crowd.”
“Court security can also create a kind of barrier zone, meaning there will be ‘X’ feet where people can walk through and there won’t be reporters sticking microphones in their faces,” adds Wu. would probably be limits on the number of people allowed in the courtroom.
If Trump is impeached and indicted, the case will eventually proceed to jury selection, which could be a long and grueling process.
“The majority of people on the jury pool would have some opinions about Donald Trump,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti tells TIME. “Most defendants, even if they are famous, are often not known to prospective jurors or have no particular opinion of that person. I think it’s safe to say that Donald Trump is different.”
When selecting jurors, the prosecution and defense use voir dire questions, meaning they can ask each prospective juror questions about their qualifications and knowledge of the case in an effort to ensure a fair and impartial jury.
Wu believes a judge could choose to issue a so-called “gag order,” restricting all parties from speaking to the press. “That’s going to get so much publicity anyway if he’s indicted,” Wu says. “It would be very difficult to find jurors who have not been exposed to the news.” Although rarely used, one method to combat this is for the judge to sequester the jury, limiting their exposure to outside influence or information.
“If this case is still ongoing, during his run for president, you could be facing a very unprecedented and challenging situation,” Mariotti says. “[Trump] would be subject to criminal enforcement action by a state, which would raise many serious constitutional problems.”
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