Trump, turning up heat, raises specter of violence if he is charged

  • Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg exits a building, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in New York. Manhattan prosecutors postponed a scheduled grand jury session Wednesday in the investigation into Donald Trump over hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign, at least temporarily slowing a decision on whether to charge the ex-president. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

In an overnight social media post, former President Donald Trump predicted that “potential death and destruction” may result if, as expected, he is charged by the Manhattan district attorney in connection with hush-money payments to a porn star made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The comments from Trump, made between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on his social media site, Truth Social, were a stark escalation in his rhetorical attacks on the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, ahead of a likely indictment on charges that Trump said would be unfounded.

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“What kind of person,” Trump wrote of Bragg, “can charge another person, in this case a former president of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a crime, when it is known by all that NO crime has been committed, & also that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our country?”

“Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!” the former president wrote.

A spokesperson for Bragg did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an email to his staff last week, Bragg wrote that the office “will continue to apply the law evenly and fairly, and speak publicly only when appropriate.”

“We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” he added.

Bragg is weighing charges against Trump in connection with hush money his former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid late in the 2016 campaign cycle to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claimed to have had an affair with Trump.

The grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the case does not typically meet on Fridays, and an indictment is not expected until next week at the earliest. Although there have been several signals that Bragg’s office is close to an indictment, the exact timing of any charges remains unknown.

Trump is also being investigated by the Justice Department in connection with his efforts to stay in power leading up to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In a post this past Saturday, Trump erroneously claimed that he was to be arrested three days later and urged people to protest and “take our nation back.”

Since then, he has called Bragg, the first Black district attorney in Manhattan, an “animal” and appeared to mock calls from some of his own allies for people to protest peacefully, or not at all.

“Our country is being destroyed as they tell us to be peaceful,” Trump said in a post Thursday.

Trump has also attacked Bragg for having received indirect financial support from billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

So far, Trump’s calls for protests have been largely ignored, with just handfuls of people coming out for a demonstration Monday organized by some of his New York Republican allies.

In a statement published Friday in Politico’s New York Playbook newsletter, a group of civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Gov. David Paterson, condemned Trump’s statements.

This disgraceful attack is not a dog whistle but a bullhorn of incendiary racist and antisemitic bile, spewed out for the sole purpose of intimidating and sabotaging a lawful, legitimate, fact-based investigation,” they said. “These ugly, hateful attacks on our judicial system must be universally condemned.”

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