Yesterday morning, Donald Trump took to his boutique social media platform to share some potentially big news: He claims he is going to be arrested on Tuesday, in connection with the investigation being conducted by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.
Although Trump lies about everything under the sun, we are disinclined to think that this is a lie. Well, at least not a complete and total lie. First, being arrested is going to be embarrassing to him, even if he surrenders himself and avoids a perp walk. Trump is keenly interested in avoiding anything even slightly embarrassing, if at all possible (remember Sharpiegate, to take one particularly clear example). Second, New York law enforcement authorities, including Bragg himself, are preparing for a violent response from Trump's followers, which they assume is coming. Such preparations would not be necessary if this was just social media blather.
That said, it is entirely possible that Trump is lying about the Tuesday part. There's been no indictment yet, and even if Bragg filed Monday morning, a Tuesday arrest would be... speedy. Not impossible, mind you, but unusually quick, even if the defendant is surrendering voluntarily. Further, there's at least one more witness scheduled to talk to the grand jury that Bragg has convened; it would be a little unusual for him to indict while the grand jury is still hearing testimony. Again, not impossible, but unusual. And finally, people in Trump's orbit, including several members of his legal team, say they haven't been contacted by Bragg, as yet. If Bragg was expecting a surrender in roughly 48 hours, especially from someone who lives more than 1,000 miles from Manhattan, then he would likely have made contact with Trump's lawyers by this point. Although we suppose that, to make things easier, Bragg could meet Trump halfway. Say, have him surrender at, oh, we don't know... Appomattox Court House, VA? That would be an appropriate location, right?
So, why would Trump lie about the timeline? Well, he definitely wants to get out ahead of this thing, so as to give the impression that he's in control of everything (even if he's actually not). It's far better for his followers to hear about an arrest from him than it is from some other person or outlet. Further, Trump is already hard at work trying to whip his followers into a frenzy. Here, in fact, is the very first message from Saturday, in which he announces the news about the arrest:
THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!
The more time he has to do drive the base into a frenzy, the more frenzied they are likely to get. Also, going off prematurely (which is surely a recurrent theme of his life) gives Trumpers outside New York extra time to do things like make travel arrangements.
In other words, it's essentially 1/6 redux. Given that Trump may soon face charges in relation to his actions before and during the insurrection, it may not be the wisest thing for him to, you know, try and incite a second insurrection. We are not lawyers, but we believe that is known as a "pattern of behavior." Still, he never thinks more than a few days ahead, and so potential downsides like that don't concern him, although his lawyers are probably pulling their hair out.
As you can surely guess, Republicans are already performing the political theater required of them, and describing the (still hypothetical) indictment as an "abuse of power" and "politically motivated." Among those who have already piped up are former VP Mike Pence, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) and Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Other that the Freedom Caucus types (e.g., Greene), we seriously doubt that any of them believe that. But they have to say it, because they are scared to death of the base.
There is not too much more that is known at this point, but we could well be looking at the story of the week, and the month, and maybe even the year. We have absolutely no expertise in this particular area of law, but we wonder how much leeway Bragg has in making surrender arrangements. Can he say something like, "If you wish to voluntarily surrender, then you will be given a two-hour window to do so, between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. in the morning on Sunday. Otherwise, U.S. Marshals will present themselves at Mar-a-Lago at an unspecified time of my choosing"? If that's legal, it might be the best way to keep Trump's arrest from being the spark that lights a MAGA fire. (Z)