NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump will deliver remarks Tuesday night in Florida after his scheduled arraignment in New York on charges related to hush money payments, his campaign announced Sunday.
Trump will hold the event at his Mar-a-Lago club after returning from Manhattan, where he is expected to voluntarily turn himself in. He is expected to be joined in Florida by supporters as he tries to project an image of strength and defiance and turn the charges into a political asset to boost his 2024 presidential campaign.
Trump is facing multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offense, in the indictment handed up by a Manhattan grand jury last week, two people familiar with the matter have told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information that is not yet public because the indictment remains under seal.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has blasted the investigation as part of a yearslong “witch hunt” aimed at damaging his candidacy.
Trump aides and lawyers had been going back and forth over the wisdom of his appearing before reporters after the arraignment as they grasped the news of an indictment that caught many of them by surprise. Trump has been catapulted back into the headlines by the criminal charges and he relishes media attention, and while some of his lawyers would have preferred he stay silent, his campaign believes the development has energized his supporters.
Already, Trump’s campaign says it has raised more than $5 million and logged more than 16,000 volunteer signups since the indictment, which Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said were “key indicators that Americans from all backgrounds are sick and tired of the weaponization of the justice system against President Trump and his supporters.”
Trump was indicted Thursday by a grand jury in the case involving hush money paid during the 2016 presidential campaign to a porn actor who alleges Trump had an extramarital sexual encounter with her years earlier.
In television interviews Sunday, Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina said he would pore over the indictment once he receives it, then devise the next legal steps. He dismissed questions about whether he would ask for a venue change or file a motion to dismiss the case as premature, though it’s common for defense attorneys to do both.
“We’re way too early to start deciding what motions we’re going to file or not file, and we do need to see the indictment and get to work,” he told ABC’s “This Week.” “I mean, look, this is the beginning.”
The former president is expected to fly to New York midday Monday and stay at his Trump Tower in Manhattan overnight ahead of his planned arraignment Tuesday, according to two people familiar with his plans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Trump’s travel plans.
He is expected to report to the courthouse Tuesday morning, where he will fingerprinted and have a mug shot taken, like anyone else facing charges. Investigators will complete arrest paperwork and check to see if he has any outstanding criminal charges or warrants.
Once the booking is complete, Trump will appear before a judge for an afternoon arraignment. That will take place in the same Manhattan courtroom where his company was tried and convicted of tax fraud in December and where disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial took place.
But Tacopina said that most of what will happen Tuesday remains “up in the air,” given Trump’s unique status as a former president, “other the fact that we will very loudly and proudly say, ‘Not guilty.’”
“Obviously, this is different. This has never happened before. I have never had Secret Service involved in an arraignment before at 100 Centre Street,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” using the courthouse’s street address. “Hopefully this will be as painless and classy as possible for a situation like this.”
The judge could at some point decide to bar anyone involved in the case from talking about it publicly, but that is unlikely to happen at Tuesday’s proceeding. A gag order generally is used as a way to avoid tainting potential jurors. But it’s often done at the request of the defendant, and in this case, Trump is the one talking
Officials from the Secret Service and the New York Police Department toured the courthouse and met about security plans on Friday.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a key Trump ally, and the New York Young Republican Club, are planning a “peaceful protest” against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg across the street from the courthouse on Tuesday afternoon.
___ Long reported from Wilmington, Delaware.