Metro Police Monitoring Situation After Trump Calls for Protests
WASHINGTON —The Metropolitan Police Department is not aware of any protests planned in the district in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s “announcement” he’ll be arrested next week, but is continuing to monitor the situation, a spokesman told The Well News on Saturday afternoon.
For a vast majority of people in D.C. and the surrounding region Saturday morning, the weekend arrived amidst thoughts of the impending bloom of the Tidal Basin cherry trees and the unfolding March Madness college basketball tournament.
At Mar-a-Lago, his luxurious Florida estate, however, the former president was on his Truth Social website typing a message to his followers.
Based on alleged leaks from what he called “a corrupt and highly political Manhattan District Attorney’s Office,” Trump told his followers that “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 also claimed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is “funded” by George Soros, the billionaire and philanthropist who supports scores of progressive causes, and that the unspecified charges he says will be brought against him are “based on an old and fully debunked … Fairytale … With no crime being able to be proven.”
Trump then closed with words that eerily echoed his call to action on Jan. 6, 2021, when a fiery appearance on the Ellipse outside the White House helped inspire the subsequent siege at the U.S. Capitol.
“Protest,” he said. “Take our nation back!”
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was among those evacuated from the Capitol that January afternoon, quickly responded with a written statement in which she lambasted the twice impeached ex-president.
“Whatever the decision is of the Grand Jury [in New York], its consideration of this case makes clear: no one is above the law, not even a former president of the United States,” Pelosi said.
“The former president’s announcement this morning is reckless: doing so to keep himself in the news and to foment unrest among his supporters,” she continued. “He cannot hide from his violations of the law, disrespect for our elections and incitements to violence. Rightfully, our legal system will decide how to hold him accountable.”
Among those rallying to Trump’s defense were current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said a possible indictment would be “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance” against Trump.
McCarthy also said he would direct relevant GOP-led House committees “to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”
Meanwhile, during a visit to Iowa, former Vice President Mike Pence, who is gearing up to face Trump in the 2024 Republican primaries, said, “The idea of indicting a former president of the United States is deeply troubling to me as it is to tens of millions of Americans.”
A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined “to confirm or comment” on anything Trump said in his post.
What’s known publicly from recent media reports is that Bragg is close to making a charging decision in the long-running investigation of Trump business dealings and the hush money payment he directed be made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of his run for president in 2016.
In recent days, a slew of former Trump associates have met with prosecutors including Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney who said he paid Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal $280,000 provided to him by Trump to ensure their silence before the 2016 election.
So far, there has been no indication, official or otherwise, that the grand jury hearing the case has returned an indictment. Grand jury proceedings are confidential.
If Trump is charged, he will be required to surrender to New York authorities and appear in court to enter a plea.
His lawyer, Joe Tacopina, assured the New York Daily News on Friday that his client intends to do just that.
“There won’t be a standoff at Mar-a-Lago with the Secret Service and the Manhattan DA’s office,” Tacopina said.
In the meantime, law enforcement in New York and elsewhere are said to be scouring social media and other avenues to determine whether any pro-Trump groups intend to follow up on his request for protests.
An open question is how Trump’s exhortation will play nationally and whether protests, should they occur, will impact other cities.
In an email to The Well News on Saturday, Sean Hickman, a spokesman for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department said, “The Metropolitan Police Department is not aware of any First Amendment activities in D.C.
“MPD will continue to monitor and will plan accordingly with our federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of D.C. residents and visitors,” he said, adding that the department “encourages the public to remain vigilant.”
“If you see something, say something. Please immediately report suspicious activity by calling 911,” Hickman added.
The Well News also reached out to the U.S. Capitol Police and continues to await comment.
If Trump is indeed indicted on Tuesday, his criminal case will mark the first lodged against a former president in U.S. history.
Dan can be reached at email@example.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue