Is Donald Trump going to be arrested today? What we know and what happens next


Tuesday might be a historic day for United States, as it might be the day that former President Donald Trump is indicted for allegedly covering up hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, nearly seven years after the money changed hands.

If he is, Trump will go down in history as the first US president to face criminal charges. The possibility of an indictment could also affect his chances for the 2024 presidential elections.

Preparations are underway for the unprecedented scenario — barricades have been set up outside the criminal courthouse in New York’s Manhattan, security has been increased in the city. Law enforcement officials are bracing for protests and the possibility of violence after the former president called on his supporters to protest ahead of his possible indictment.

Questions are also swirling if Trump will be handcuffed if indicted.

Given all the questions swirling on the matter, we present an easy guide on all things related to the case and what happens next to Trump if he is, indeed, indicted.

What’s the case all about?

The possible indictment of Donald Trump stems from 2016 when American porn star Stormy Daniels contacted media outlets offering to sell her account of what she said was an adulterous affair she had with Donald Trump in 2006.

Trump, who was running for US president that year, heard of the news and his team, including his then lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 (Rs 1.07 lakh) to Daniels to keep quiet. This isn’t illegal. The problem is that when Trump paid Cohen, the record for the payment said it was for legal fees.

Graphic: Pranay Bhardwaj

This, according to prosecutors, amounts to Trump falsifying business records, which is a misdemeanour — a criminal offence — in New York. Prosecutors could also allege that this breaks election law, as he attempted to hide payment to Daniels because he didn’t want voters to know of the affair. Covering up a crime by falsifying records would be a felony, which is a more serious charge.

However, this is not an easy case to try and past attempts to charge politicians with crossing the line between campaign finance and personal spending have ended in failure. As former financial prosecutor for New York City district attorney Catherine Christian told the BBC: “It’s going to be tough.”

When is Trump getting arrested?

We don’t know if Trump is being arrested for certain. However, there are lots of reasons to believe it will happen today. On 18 March (Saturday), Trump himself claimed on his social media platform, Truth Social, that he will be arrested on Tuesday.

However, his legal team has since suggested that the president has no specific knowledge of when an arrest is coming.

As of now, the only person who knows if Trump will be charged is New York City District Attorney Alvin Bragg — he set up the grand jury to investigate whether there was enough evidence to pursue a prosecution, and he is the only one who knows if — or when — an indictment will be announced.

If Trump is indicted, will he be handcuffed?

If charged, Trump’s lawyers have indicated that the former president’s arrest would follow standard procedure.

That means he could travel from his home at Mar-a-Lago in Florida to make an appearance at the New York City court, complete with a formal booking, fingerprints and mug shot.

However, it is unlikely that Trump will do the traditional “perp walk”. Bill Pickle, the former special agent in charge of Al Gore’s vice presidential detail, told Business Insider, “That walk is not going to happen. You’re not going to expose him to people who could cause him harm.”

Former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told USA Today, “There will be no reason to cuff him and walk him into police headquarters to be booked. There will still be a mug shot, fingerprints and lots of paperwork filled out as part of the booking process. So we will see a mug shot of a former president of the United States but I do not think we’re going to see a perp walk.”

Veteran Manhattan defence lawyer Ron Kuby was of the opinion that a handcuffed Trump would be a bad look for Bragg and expose him to allegations of being biased. Also, it would enrage Trump’s support base.

A protester holds a sign outside Manhattan criminal court, as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg continues his investigation into former US president Donald Trump, in New York City. Reuters

Why is security being bulked up in New York?

New York Police has tightened security in the city ahead of the possible indictment. The New York Police Department (NYPD) has erected barricades outside Bragg’s office and Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

According to a New York Times report, more than a dozen senior police officials met with mayoral aides on Sunday to discuss security and contingency plans for protests.

Senior Democrats have warned that Trump’s possible indictment could trigger a repeat of the violence that unfolded on the US Capitol in January 2021 after his loss in the US presidential elections.

An online group — ‘the Donald’— has called for a ‘national strike’ and ‘Civil War 2.0’ to protect Trump and protest any arrest.

Also read: How former US president Donald Trump’s legal woes are getting worse

In fact, Trump, himself, has called for protests in case he is indicted. On his social media platform, he said, “We just can’t allow this anymore. They are killing our nation as we sit back and watch.”

The former US president also said, “Protest, take our nation back!”

Republicans also chimed into the matter, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeting that the impending arrest was “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.”

Will this affect Trump’s 2024 run?

The short answer for this is: NO. Legal experts state that there are no restrictions in the Constitution that bar people from becoming president if they’ve been indicted.

A supporter of former President Donald Trump raises a flag outside of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. AP

Republican strategist Lenny McCallister said that the indictment, if it happens, will basically aid Donald Trump. The indictment would likely compound support among Trump’s most loyal followers. “He has said he is there to drain the swamp. The swamp is threatened by him. And it’s been a war with the swamp ever since,” McAllister told Al Jazeera. “And people that believe that narrative will see this indictment as being further evidence of that.”

Geoffrey Kabaservice, vice president for political studies at the Niskanen Center, a think tank in Washington, DC, echoed similar thoughts. He said that it would lend to the theory that the opposition is doing its best to take him out of the 2024 contests.

Also read: Donald Trump is running for president in 2024: The Republicans who might challenge him

“I think he actually kind of needs this indictment in a way. It’ll boost his visibility. It will force possible competitors like Ron DeSantis to say this is unfair, Trump is being treated badly,” he explained. “And it’ll give him that kind of aura of martyrdom that he craves,” he told Al Jazeera.

However, it might cause some Republican leaders to rethink their support to Trump and hurt his chances in the primaries. He could easily be perceived as not a viable candidate for the 2024 elections.

But as Kabaservice notes, ““There once would have been a time when Donald Trump getting indicted would have seemed like a big deal, like: Surely this will be the end of Trump’s political career,” he told Al Jazeera. “Now I think, if anything, it will have an energising effect on Trump. And I don’t think it will lead to any negative consequences.”

With inputs from agencies

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Is Donald Trump going to be arrested today? What we know and what happens next
Is Donald Trump going to be arrested today? What we know and what happens next
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