The first in what could be a series of criminal indictments against Donald Trump is expected to take place as early as this week, leaving the former president bracing for his eventual arrest.
Trump himself predicted he’d be arrested on Tuesday and, in what could turn out to be fateful words, implored his supporters to “protest” and “take our nation back,” similar verbiage to that which incited the Capitol riots Jan. 6, 2021.
But if and when Trump is arrested, it may not be everything his opponents have been hoping for.
Any expectations of enjoying the optics of seeing Trump being handcuffed, pushed into a squad car and driven downtown for booking are probably delusions of grandeur, according to one former prosecutor.
The process of a traditional arrest will take place, former U.S. Army prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told USA Today, but it will not happen traditionally, so to speak.
That means that it’s highly doubtful that there will be a “perp walk” of Trump walking in handcuffs so that the media can photograph and video the so-called money shot of an accused criminal being publicly shamed, Kirschner said.
“There will be no reason to cuff him and walk him into police headquarters to be booked,” Kirschner told USA Today.
However, the world will get to see a photo of Trump being booked that will live in infamy no matter how the case turns out.
“There will still be a mug shot, fingerprints and lots of paperwork filled out as part of the booking process,” Kirschner continued. “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.”
While bringing Trump to justice for any alleged crime should be paramount, society hasn’t forgotten the way Trump has repeatedly and readily criminalized Black and brown people. After all, he’s the same person who called for the death penalty for the Exonerated Five, who were all teenagers ultimately proven innocent when Trump campaigned for their capital punishment — something he’s refused to apologize for.
What did Trump do?
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been investigating Trump’s alleged “hush money” payment of $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, a porn star who performs using the name Stormy Daniels. The money was paid by Trump’s former lawyer in an effort to keep private an alleged sexual encounter she had with the former president. Specifically, attorney Micheal Cohen testified that he paid Daniels to not speak publicly so as to influence the 2016 election cycle that featured numerous women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct, including rape.
Hush money payments aren’t illegal. Prosecutors are weighing whether to charge Trump with falsifying the business records of the Trump Organization for how it reflected the reimbursement of the payment to Cohen, who said he advanced the money to Daniels. Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York.
Prosecutors are also weighing whether to charge Trump with falsifying business records in the first degree for falsifying a record with the intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal another crime, which in this case could be a violation of campaign finance laws. That is a Class E felony and carries a sentence of a minimum of one year and as much as four years. To prove the case, prosecutors would need to show Trump intended to commit a crime.
The Trump Organization noted the reimbursements as a legal expense in its internal books. Trump has previously denied knowledge of the payment.
Cohen testified about the allegations this past Wednesday, suggesting the investigation was heating up or nearing its conclusion.
Two weeks ago, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg invited Trump to testify before a grand jury, something legal experts said signaled an imminent indictment.
Trump, of course, refused the invitation and instead said Bragg, a Black man, was motivated by racism.
Mo’ cases, mo’ prosecutors, mo’ perp walks?
As Bragg’s investigation heats up, two other prosecutors are still conducting their own separate probes of Trump.
Just last month, a grand jury empaneled by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to investigate Trump’s repeated attempts to overturn and invalidate the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia recommended criminal charges over possible perjury. The grand jury found that at least one witness lied under oath. However, it was neither immediately apparent who was accused of committing perjury nor what the lie was.
Prior to that revelation, Willis suggested that a decision on whether to seek indictments was “imminent.”
And back in New York, the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, sued Trump, his children and his company for $250 million in a suit alleging “intentional and deliberate fraud” as “part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family and his company” over the course of 10 years from 2011 to 2021.
James claims that as a result, Trump violated multiple state and federal laws. She said she would refer evidence of bank fraud to the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service, something that seemingly increases the likelihood of criminal charges.
So, in other words, if the world doesn’t get to witness a Trump perp walk this week, the prosecutors in New York and Georgia are seemingly increasing the chances that there will be at least one more chance to see it happen.
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