Donald Trump was ‘initially shocked’ by the grand jury indictment handed down against him last night but is now ‘ready to fight’ and be ‘combative’, one of his lawyers has revealed.
Trump, 76, will be arraigned in Manhattan at 2.15pm on Tuesday on an array of business fraud charges relating to 2016 hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
He has denied any wrongdoing, and says he is the victim of a politically-motivated witch hunt led by the famously Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump – who is set to become the first former president to face criminal charges – was pictured last night at Mar-a-Lago with his wife Melania, 52, by his side.
Attorney Joe Tacopina said on Friday morning that Trump will not be put in handcuffs when he is in New York, and that Secret Service will not allow the arraignment to become a ‘circus’.
He however said he believes Bragg’s office will ‘try to get some joy out of parading him’.
Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina on the Today show
Donald and Melania Trump are seen on Thursday evening at an event at Mar-a-Lago, their Florida home
‘The president will not be put in handcuffs, as far as a mugshot, perp walk, I am sure they will try to make sure they get some joy out of it by parading him.
‘But this is a different situation,’ he said during an appearance on Good Morning America.
‘You have Secret Service involved… a lot of different groups involved. I don’t think they’re going to allow this to become a circus.’
He added that even though he is yet to see the indictment or know what the specific charges are, he does not believe they are warranted.
Despite predicting his own arrest, Tacopina said he was still shocked that the grand jury decided to indict him.
‘Despite all the rumors, we believed and hoped that the rule of law would prevail. He was initially shocked.
‘After he got over that, he put a notch on his belt and he, you know, decided we have to fight now. Now, he is in a typical Donald Trump posture – he is ready to be combative on something he feels is an injustice.’
Tacopina said Trump will plead not guilty, and that he will ‘immediately’ begin ‘aggressively’ fighting the case.
‘His knees don’t buckle. He is ready to fight this,’ he said.
Calling it an ‘unprecedented case’, he fumed: ‘The rule of law died yesterday.’
In a separate interview on Good Morning America, Michael Cohen – Trump’s former attorney who was previously convicted of campaign finance violations and tax evasion –
The Trumps can be seen dining among Mar-a-Lago guests (left, with their backs to the camera): Melania’s red dress is visible, as is the former president’s distinctive hair
Trump and his wife Melania were captured just hours after a grand jury recommended that he be indicted over a $130,000 hush money payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels.
A photo of the couple was posted to Twitter on Thursday evening by Gina Loudon, a conservative media commentator, who tweeted: ‘Beautiful evening here at the gorgeous Mar a Lago! Our REAL First Couple enveloped in the love of their friends and most loyal!’
She then added: ‘(Sorry to disappoint, corporate media. Actually not. Screw you! This is a happiness you will never know, sadly).’
The ex-president and frontrunner to be Republican nominee in 2024 said he is ‘completely innocent’ and has dismissed the accusations as politically motivated. He is set to face a mug shot, finger-printing and a court appearance next week following the indictment.
The appearance came as the Trump team was working out how to handle the news – which came as a shock. They had not expected a decision for several weeks, given announcements about the Manhattan grand jury’s schedule.
Trump supporters were dispatched to news channels to argue that the case was political persecution, with Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer who represented Trump in his first impeachment, arguing that a fair trial was impossible in Manhattan. He said the trial should be moved from the Democrat stronghold to Staten Island – the only one of the five boroughs of New York City to vote Republican.
The news also caused consternation in Washington DC, according to a report. The New York Times said that some in the Justice Department were concerned that the charges could overshadow and perhaps complicate their own cases, which are felt to be stronger.
The Justice Department has a special counsel, Jack Smith, investigating efforts to overturn the election, and the handling of Mar-a-Lago classified documents.
It is unclear when those investigations will conclude.
Trump’s lawyer has said he will travel to Manhattan to be arraigned on Tuesday, when he could face as many as 30 charges related to business fraud.
The former president huddled with lawyers and advisers at his Mar-a-Lago home on Thursday evening after news broke that a Manhattan jury had voted to indict him over a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.
Responding to the news last night, Daniels tweeted: ‘Thank you to everyone for your support and love! I have so many messages coming in that I can’t respond…also don’t want to spill my champagne.
‘#Teamstormy merch/autograph orders are pouring in, too! Thank you for that as well but allow a few extra days for shipment.’
A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict former president Donald Trump over hush money paid to pornstar Stormy Daniels
Trump played nine holes of golf at his West Palm Beach club on Thursday. He is pictured here a day earlier with Natalie Harp, who helps run his Truth Social media account
Trump has blasted the indictment and said Democrats would regret persecuting an innocent man when his supporters dumped them out of office.
In the meantime, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said it was in touch with Trump’s lawyers to arrange his surrender in New York.
A source told DailyMail.com that the head of Trump’s security detail recently traveled to Manhattan to review arrangements and that the former president would likely be formally arrested next week.
That could be as soon as Tuesday, Susan Necheles, one of his lawyers, told the New York Times.
Although the indictment is sealed for now, CNN reported that it contained more than 30 criminal charges.
‘The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to “Get Trump,” but now they’ve done the unthinkable – indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election Interference,’ Trump said in an emailed statement.
‘Never before in our nation’s history has this been done.’
The indictment marks the end of a five-year investigation into cash paid to the adult movie star in 2016, allegedly to buy her silence about their affair.
And it takes the country into uncharted political and legal territory. Although being charged with a crime would not disqualify him from running for office, it does mean a leading 2024 candidate faces the humiliation of arrest.
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said talks had begun to bring Trump to New York.
‘This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,’ they said.
Earlier, Trump played nine holes of golf at his Florida club as usual on Thursday morning. But the 76-year-old did not stay for lunch even though his usual table was reserved.
A source close to his Mar-a-Lago home said the Trump team was ready with statements and social media messaging as soon as the indictment dropped.
‘We had a plan in place and the plan was executed,’ he said. ‘Getting surrogates out, getting content out.’
Within minutes his sons Don Jr and Eric were livecasting or tweeting, fundraising appeals followed and an emailed statement arrived from Trump himself in inboxes soon after.
Trump is expected to travel voluntarily to New York to be arrested. But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted that he would not help any effort to extradite the former president
A grand jury has been hearing evidence about allegations that Donald Trump paid $130,000 to adult movie star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence over their affair
Trump railed against the indictment in an emailed statement. He said this ‘Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden’ and predicted Democrats will be voted out of office
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg leaving his office yesterday evening. A spokesperson said the office had contacted Trump’s lawyers to begin the process of bringing him to Manhattan
‘I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden,’ said Trump, before criticizing the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
‘The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it.
‘So our Movement, and our Party – united and strong – will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these Crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’
Trump is leading most polls of Republican voters for the party nomination. But the Manhattan case is just one of the legal obstacles he faces, including probes into efforts to overthrow the result of the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Many leading legal scholars believe the hush money case may be the weakest of the lot.
Trump and his allies had even floated the idea that the case was being dropped after a series of delays to grand jury hearings.
As a result, the indictment landed out of the blue on Thursday evening.
Trump also posted to Truth Social, sharing his anger at his impending arraignment
Meanwhile it also emerged on Thursday New York prosecutors were looking to charge Trump over a $150,000 payment made to another former Playboy model
A month long Manhattan grand jury hiatus had led Trump and his allies to float the idea that the DA was preparing to drop the hush money case against the former president
It leaves a city braced for protests. All uniformed members of the New York Police Department need to be ‘prepared for deployment,’ according to memo obtained by the New York Times.
His lawyers, Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina, promised to fight the ‘political prosecution’ in court. ‘President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime,’ they said.
Although he is the first former president to be criminally charged, he is not the first presidential candidate to be criminally charged. Eugene Debs, convicted of sedition and jailed for his opposition to World War One, ran for president five times.
It marks a victory for the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg.
Bragg’s office has been probing a $130,000 hush money payment made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, to Daniels, 44, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The Trump camp was quick to blast the indictment on Thursday night, with Eric Trump telling DailyMail.com it was ‘the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent’.
Florida Governor and 2024 rival Ron DeSantis offered a partial lifeline on Thursday, saying he would try to thwart the extradition of the former president from his state.
He described the prosecution as ‘unAmerican.’
‘Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda,’ he said in a tweet, referring to the fact that Alvin Bragg’s election campaign was backed by billionaire activist George Soros.
Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence also blasted Bragg’s decision to bring charges against his former boss.
‘The unprecedented indictment of a former president on a campaign finance issue is an outrage. I think the American people are going to look at this… as one more example of the criminalization of politics in this country.’
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel weighed in. She tweeted: ‘When our justice system is weaponized as a political tool, it endangers all of us.
‘This is a blatant abuse of power from a DA focused on political vengeance instead of keeping people safe.’
Republican lawmakers continued to rally around Trump. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said: ‘Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election.
‘The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.’
Natalie Harp (left) was seen on the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on Wednesday with the former president on Wednesday. She was pictured showing Donald Trump something on her phone
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is one of at least 75 liberal district attorneys who have received millions in funding from George Soros-backed political action committees
In 2017 former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges, including tax evasion, fraud and campaign finance violations, and he told a court in Manhattan that Trump had directed him to make the payments
Across the political aisle, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who were Trump’s bete noires on Capitol Hill during his presidency, both released statements following the news.
Pelosi said: ‘The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law. No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.’
Likewise, Schumer said: ‘Mr. Trump is subject to the same laws as every American. He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law.
‘There should be no outside political influence, intimidation or interference in the case. I encourage both Mr. Trump’s critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law.’
President Joe Biden’s White House declined to comment on the indictment.
Meanwhile it also emerged on Thursday New York prosecutors were looking to charge Trump over a $150,000 payment made to another former Playboy model.
Bragg’s team has questioned grand jury witnesses about cash given to Karen McDougal, who was Playboy magazine ‘Playmate of the Year’ in 1998.
Eric Trump told DailyMail.com: ‘This is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.
‘They are ruthlessly attacking my father because he dared challenge the political elite. This is Exhibit A to the decline of American Law.’
The former president has always denied having an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
But the case dogged him through his time in office after triggering a federal investigation.
In 2017 Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges, including tax evasion, fraud and campaign finance violations, and he told a court in Manhattan that Trump had directed him to make the payments.
But the investigation disappeared from the headlines as other legal cases focused on Trump’s family business and his actions around the Jan. 6, 2021, riot hog the spotlight. But it never went away.
Trump used a social media post on Saturday to call on his supporters to protest as he claimed he expects to be arrested as early as Tuesday. Aides say they do not know the timing
The New York Young Republicans Club is holding a protest on Monday evening. ‘Join us in peaceful protest of Alvin Bragg’s heinous attack on President Donald J. Trump … ‘ it says
Although the Justice Department decided not to charge Trump and the Federal Election Commission was deadlocked over taking action over claims that the payment amounted to an undeclared campaign contribution, the Manhattan DA was still looking at the case.
And it took on fresh momentum early in 2023 when Cohen met with investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office and it emerged that a grand jury was hearing evidence.
Such hearings are conducted in secret. But one theory was that it was probing Trump for falsifying business records in connection with the payment, by allegedly misreporting a campaign donation as a legal fees.
That amounts to a misdemeanor. But that rises to a felony if it is done in conjunction with a second crime, such as a campaign finance violation.
Then in March Bragg’s office asked Trump to testify, in the clearest sign yet that he could be indicted.
The former president confirmed as much in a social media post at the weekend, calling on supporters to rise up in protest.
‘The far and away leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday of next week,’ he posted on his Truth Social platform. ‘Protest, take our nation back!’
The final act was reportedly the repeat testimony of Trump lawyer Robert Costello on Monday.
He was asked to appear by the former president’s legal team because he may have evidence that contradicted Cohen’s account. Privately Trump’s allies are confident that the case has little substance.
New York Police Department staff install barricades around the Lower Manhattan court complex ahead of former President Donald Trump’s anticipated indictment
An insider told DailyMail.com that it strengthens him politically, rallying the base in his support. ‘It is very obvious that this is helpful,’ he said.
He added that to get the second charge, elevating the case to a felony, prosecutors would have to show that Trump wanted to cover up an affair to help his campaign, even though the business mogul’s love life had been frontpage news in New York for decades.
‘Of course no one wants to be indicted, but it is helpful politically and legally it’s not even that much of a threat because the case is so weak and looks nakedly political,’ added the source.
Legal experts have also weighed in on the case’s failings.
‘Although it may be politically popular, the case is legally pathetic,’ said Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professof of Public Interest Law at the George Washington University in a column for The Hill.
‘Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump over his payment of @hush money@ to former stripper Stormy Daniels.
‘In 2018 (yes, that is how long this theory has been around), I wrote how difficult such a federal case would be under existing election laws. Now, six years later, the same theory may be shoehorned into a state claim.’
Meanwhile on Thursday it emerged Manhattan DA Bragg’s team has questioned grand jury witnesses about cash given to Karen McDougal, who was Playboy magazine ‘Playmate of the Year’ in 1998.
McDougal claims she had a ten-month affair with Trump which began in 2006. Trump’s office released a statement on Thursday branding the development a ‘hoax’.
Evidence about payments to McDougal could either be used to bring new charges or establish a ‘pattern of behavior’ for the Daniels case, sources told the Wall Street Journal which revealed the development.
A spokesman for Trump said: ‘It is sad to see radical Democrats and their partners in the media try to resurrect a dead witch hunt.
‘Just like with every other hoax that President Trump has been targeted with, there is no crime, except for election interference through weaponization of our justice system against President Trump and his supporters.’
Bragg’s office and McDougal’s lawyer hadn’t commented on the latest development on Thursday afternoon.
American Media Inc, the owner of the National Enquirer, paid $150,000 to McDougal in 2016 for exclusive rights to the story about her alleged affair with Trump, which he denies. But the purchase was a ‘catch and kill’ tactic to prevent the story being made public.
The Federal Election Commission later ruled that the company and its former president, David Pecker, struck the deal with Trump officials in order to suppress the story and ‘prevent it from influencing the election’.
The FEC ruling detailed how Pecker and AMI met with Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen to help make negative stories about Trump and his relationships go away.
And it concluded that AMI ‘coordinated’ with the Trump campaign in paying $150,000 to McDougal. Pecker gave evidence to the Trump grand jury on Monday.
Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker (far right) is shown trying to hide from the press as he leaves the Lefkowitz State Office Building on Monday after giving testimony