Gird your loins: Former President Donald Trump hasn’t even been indicted yet, but this week is already shaping up to be chaotic.
Trump predicted over the weekend that he will be indicted Tuesday by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels hush money during his 2016 presidential campaign. He urged his followers on Truth Social to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
New York Police Department officials and officers for the Criminal Courts Building in Manhattan began preparing as early as last week for a possible indictment and arraignment, The New York Times reported. On Sunday, police officials and two public safety aides from the mayor’s office met to discuss security plans in the event of protests.
It’s unclear how many Trump supporters will actually take to the streets on his behalf this time around—though there is an obvious precedent for concern: In 2021, when Trump urged his followers to attend a rally in Washington on January 6, the enormous mob ended up storming the U.S. Capitol.
This time, however, even his staunchest supporters have been more subdued. There have been some calls to action, with the New York Young Republican Club saying it will hold a “peaceful protest” Monday evening in Manhattan. Other groups have urged people to protest outside Mar-a-Lago, creating a protective barrier against any authorities who might arrive to arrest Trump. And there have been some calls online for violence against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is coordinating increased security for himself and one of his top aides.
But the nearly 1,000 arrests made since January 6 seem to have turned off many people from similar unruliness. Those arrested in connection with the January 6 riot have incurred heavy legal fees, and many say that they feel Trump abandoned them. Their experience has likely made more people wary of turning out en masse to face off against law enforcement at the former president’s behest.
Even Ali Alexander, an organizer of the “Stop the Steal” movement that propagated Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged, warned the former president’s supporters to stay away from New York City.
“You have no liberty or rights there,” he tweeted. “You will be jailed or worse.”
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, another die-hard Trump loyalist, seemed to imply that protests would do no good. “How many Feds/Fed assets are in place to turn protest against the political arrest of Pres Trump into violence?” she tweeted Sunday, spreading a conspiracy theory that the January 6 riot was fueled or set up by undercover law enforcement informants.
Other Trump supporters have cited this conspiracy as a reason to stay away from a potential New York demonstration.
But Greene and other Republicans are still backing Trump. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and other GOP leaders are preparing to demand that members of Bragg’s office testify before Congress, Politico reported. Green also called for Bragg to testify, insisting the charges against Trump were “fake” and intended to be “used in Democrat ads.”
Trump will likely keep track of who supports him through the indictment—and wield that on the campaign trail, if he’s able to get there. Over the weekend, members of his inner circle attacked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered the favorite to take on Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, for not immediately denouncing the indictment.
Pro-Trump radio host John Fredericks tweeted at DeSantis: “You have to choose between your Wall Street gangster-bankster big donor hedge fund open border benefactors—or us.”
On Truth Social, Donald Trump Jr. told people to “pay attention to which Republicans spoke out against this corrupt BS immediately and who sat on their hands and waited to see which way the wind was blowing.”
DeSantis claimed Monday that Bragg was unfairly weaponizing his office against Trump. But the burgeoning purity test is a further sign of divisions in the Republican Party, as lawmakers struggle to choose between DeSantis and Trump.