Donald Trump Braces for Potential Charges in N.Y. Hush-Money Case, Calls for Protests.

Donald Trump called on his supporters to protest in the face of expected charges against the former president in New York connected to the payment of hush money to a porn star.
Mr. Trump posted a message on his social media site Saturday morning, saying leaks indicated that he would be charged by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and arrested on Tuesday “BASED ON AN OLD & FULLY DEBUNKED (BY NUMEROUS OTHER PROSECUTORS!) FAIRYTALE.” 
Mr. Trump hasn’t been charged. Nor have Manhattan prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s lawyers settled on a potential surrender date, according to people familiar with the grand jury investigation of the 2016 payment.
A Trump spokesman later on Saturday said the former president hasn’t been notified that he will be arrested and charged. “President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system,” the spokesman said.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. declined to comment.
Law-enforcement officials, including from the district attorney’s office and the New York Police Department, held a meeting late this week to discuss preliminary security plans for a potential Trump indictment, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials were planning for Mr. Trump to face the charges in New York as soon as this coming week, the people said.
The precise charges that the prosecutors are considering aren’t known, but the office has looked at charging Mr. Trump with a felony version of a state offense for falsifying business records. The offense is a low-level felony that carries no requirement of prison time. Charging that offense as a felony requires connecting it to another crime, which could bring a host of legal challenges for prosecutors.
A grand jury has been hearing from witnesses involved in the hush-money payment and its aftermath since late January. Jurors this week heard twice from Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer who coordinated the payment. Mr. Cohen has said the former president directed him to pay off porn star and director Stormy Daniels to silence her about an alleged affair, which the former president denies.  
With Mr. Cohen’s appearances, the grand jury has heard from most of the central players in the 2016 deal and its aftermath. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have said he won’t appear before the panel. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, is serving a jail sentence. Federal prosecutors alleged in a case against Mr. Cohen in 2018 that the then-CFO was involved in reimbursing Mr. Cohen for his payment to Ms. Daniels.
Mr. Weisselberg pleaded guilty in an offshoot case of the investigation by Mr. Bragg’s office, related to off-the-books compensation he received at the Trump Organization. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Mr. Weisselberg testified at the trial of the Trump Organization, which a jury convicted of tax fraud and other crimes.
Michael Cohen leaves a New York courthouse after testifying last Wednesday.PHOTO: SARAH YENESEL/SHUTTERSTOCK
The district attorney’s office ratcheted up its investigation of the hush money after Mr. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were sentenced in January.
Mr. Trump and his business paid Mr. Cohen back in monthly installments disguised as legal expenses for work he never performed, federal prosecutors alleged. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in the federal case to a criminal campaign-finance violation for his role in the payment.
Mr. Trump has said he didn’t do anything wrong. He has accused Ms. Daniels of extorting him, and Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, of seeking to hurt the former president’s electoral prospects.
The hush-money investigation, focused on Mr. Trump’s alleged conduct before and in the early part of his presidential term, is the longest-running of several active criminal probes of the former president. 
The Justice Department is investigating the handling of classified documents at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss. Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating attempts by Mr. Trump and his supporters to influence Georgia’s 2020 election results. 
Mr. Trump, who has denied wrongdoing in the various probes, has said he would remain in the presidential race if he is charged. He is one of the front-runners for the 2024 Republican nomination, and his legacy still dominates Republican politics, more than two years after he left office. Mr. Trump was impeached by the House for his actions related to the Jan. 6, 2021 riots, in which his supporters tried to stop Joe Biden’s win from being certified. He was acquitted in the Senate.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), the former speaker of the House, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s announcement was reckless and accused him of doing it “to keep himself in the news and to foment unrest among his supporters. 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.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is weighing a run for president, criticized the possible move in New York, questioning how the case would be a priority when crime has risen. “It reeks of the kind of political prosecution that we endured back in the days of the Russia hoax and the whole impeachment over a phone call,” Mr. Pence said on a radio show with Breitbart News.
House Republicans plan to gather in Orlando from Sunday to Tuesday for their annual issues conference where they will plan the agenda for the year. 
The Trump developments are set to rekindle long-running fights within the party, with some lawmakers fiercely loyal to the former president while others seek to move past the tumult of the Trump era while embracing many of his policies popular with conservative voters.

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