Possibility of Trump’s arrest builds sympathy among his supporters
2/2 FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters accompanied by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds during a campaign rally, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S. March 13, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst 2/2
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The possibility that Donald Trump may be charged for allegedly covering up hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 campaign is garnering sympathy for the Republican former president, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said on Sunday.
Trump, whose supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to try to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat, said in a social media post on Saturday that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday – citing leaks from the Manhattan district attorney’s office – and called on people to protest. He did not discuss the possible charges in his post.
“It’s building a lot of sympathy for the former president,” Sununu told CNN’s “State of the Union” program, saying he spoke to some people on Sunday who were not “big Trump supporters but they all said … they felt he was being attacked.”
Trump is seeking the 2024 Republican nomination. Sununu, a relative moderate, is considering a run.
A spokesman for Trump said the former president had not been notified of any arrest and Trump provided no evidence of leaks from the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
No U.S. president – while in office or afterward – has faced criminal charges.
Trump has said he will continue campaigning even if charged with a crime.
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office has been investigating a $130,000 hush payment Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn actor Stormy Daniels, declined to comment.
Sources have said that Bragg’s office has been presenting evidence to a grand jury about the payment, which came in the waning days of the 2016 campaign in return for Daniels’ silence about an affair she said she had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump has denied that the affair happened and called the investigation by Bragg, a Democrat, a witch hunt.
An additional witness is expected to appear before the grand jury on Monday, at the request of Trump’s lawyers, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
Trump’s statement that he expected to be arrested Tuesday is based on news reports that Bragg’s office is going to be meeting with law enforcement to prepare for a possible indictment, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Legal experts have said that if he were indicted any trial of the former U.S. president would still be more than a year away, possibly coinciding with the final months of the 2024 presidential campaign as Trump seeks a return to the White House.
Asked if she was concerned about potential violence after Trump called on his supporters to protest, Senator Elizabeth Warren told ABC News, “This is another case of Donald Trump advancing the interest of Donald Trump.”
Warren said there was no cause for protest, as called upon by Trump, adding: “No one is above the law.”