Police in several major U.S. cities are bracing for protests over the potential indictment of Donald Trump in connection with a hush money payment made to an adult film star during the 2016 election.
The preparations follow calls from the former president asking his supporters to protest if a grand jury assembled by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office elects to indict him, which reportedly may happen within the next few days.
“Protest, protest, protest” and “Take our nation back,” Trump wrote in an all-caps screed on his social media network Truth Social on Saturday, when he announced that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday.
In anticipation of Trump’s supporters heeding his call, officials have begun making arrangements in the event that protests in his defense get out of control or grow violent ― as they often do.
Outside the Manhattan courthouse where the grand jury is assembled, police began erecting dozens of metal barricades Monday, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he was assured the city was prepared for any disturbance related to the potential indictment.
“We are monitoring comments on social media, and the NYPD is doing their normal role of making sure there is no inappropriate actions in the city,” he said at a Monday press conference. “We are confident we’re going to be able to do that.
Police at the U.S. Capitol, which Trump’s supporters violently stormed in 2021, have also begun to up security, people familiar with the matter told Politico on Monday.
Police are also preparing for pro-Trump protests in Palm Beach County, Florida, near his Mar-a-Lago residence, sources told ABC News.
Similar preparations are underway in Los Angeles.
Mike Pence, who served as vice president in Trump’s White House, downplayed concerns about protests on Sunday, telling ABC News that people have a “right to peaceably assemble.” Pence was a major target of the Capitol rioters’ ire on Jan. 6, 2021, many of whom called for him to be hanged over the belief that he was blocking Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), however, is discouraging protests, telling reporters Sunday that “we want calmness out there.”
If Trump is indicted, it will mark the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges. It would be a stunning crescendo in the longest-running criminal investigation into him.
Trump, meanwhile, denies any involvement in a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she received the money in exchange for staying silent about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006. Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen admitted to orchestrating the payment one month before the 2016 election and was sentenced to three years federal prison in 2018, though he served only one year.