Trump Prepares to Surrender in New York as Police Brace for Protests


The former president is expected to answer charges with the Secret Service in tow before a judge in the often grimy and ill-lit criminal courthouse in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday.


James C. McKinley Jr. is a Metro reporter. He has been an investigative sports reporter, the bureau chief in Albany, Houston and Nairobi, a correspondent in Miami and Mexico City, and a police and City Hall reporter.

Jonah E. Bromwich covers criminal justice in New York, with a focus on the Manhattan district attorney’s office, state criminal courts in Manhattan and New York City’s jails.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Neil Vigdor, Ben Shpigel, Richard Fausset, Danny Hakim and Chelsia Rose Marcius in New York and by Luke Broadwater, Jonathan Swan and Charlie Savage in Washington.

  • March 31, 2023

Donald J. Trump prepared on Friday to surrender to prosecutors in Manhattan next week as the New York police braced for protests and sharply partisan responses from Democrats and Republicans ushered in a tumultuous time for a deeply polarized nation.

A day after a grand jury indicted Mr. Trump and made him the first former president to face criminal charges, metal barricades were up around the criminal courthouse on Centre Street in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Trump is expected to enter the often grimy and ill-lit building with his Secret Service protection to answer charges before a state judge on Tuesday.

Dozens of reporters and camera crews camped out across the street on Friday, while 20 court officers stood at the courthouse entrances, monitoring activity on the street.

Mr. Trump intends to travel to New York on Monday and stay the night at Trump Tower, people familiar with his preparations said. He has no plans to hold a news conference or address the public while he is in New York, the people said.

Mr. Trump remained largely quiet on Friday at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Florida, where he spent the day talking on the telephone with advisers. One of his lawyers, Joe Tacopina, said in a television interview that the former president would not take a plea deal and was prepared to go to trial, a typically defiant stance that is likely to endear him to his supporters, who see the prosecution as a politically motivated vendetta by Democrats.

Late on Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump burst out on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded, writing in all capital letters that Democrats were “INDICTING A TOTALLY INNOCENT MAN IN AN ACT OF OBSTRUCTION AND BLATANT ELECTION INTERFERENCE.” He concluded that it was all happening “WHILE OUR COUNTRY IS GOING TO HELL!”

The former president is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan criminal court on charges related to payments made just before the 2016 presidential election to buy the silence of a porn star who said she had an extramarital affair with him. The former president, who has denied the affair, has been charged with more than two dozen counts in a sealed indictment, according to two people familiar with the matter, although the exact charges remain unknown.

Conservative Republicans continued to criticize the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, whose office rebuked House Republicans for attempting to interfere in the case.

The case, which could drag on for months and whose outcome is far from clear, is likely to test the country’s institutions and the rule of law. It will also have deep repercussions for the 2024 campaign for the White House, a race in which Mr. Trump remains the Republican front-runner.

Mr. Trump has sought to capitalize on the criminal charges to energize his core supporters. On Thursday, he called Mr. Bragg “a disgrace” and denounced the indictment as “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.”

The Indictment of Donald Trump in New York

His message was repeated across the conservative media sphere on Friday by Republican politicians and pundits.

Mr. Trump was roundly defended on Fox News, including by hosts who had reviled him in private. Although the host Tucker Carson said of Mr. Trump in early 2021, “I hate him passionately,” according to a text released as part of a defamation suit against Fox, on Thursday Mr. Carlson called the indictment “one in a long line of unprecedented steps that permanent Washington has taken to stop Donald Trump from holding office in a democracy.” He also said: “Probably not the best time to give up your AR-15.”

Supporters of Mr. Trump gathered outside his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday after the indictment was reported.Credit…Josh Ritchie for The New York TimesSupporters of Mr. Trump gathered outside his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday after the indictment was reported.Credit…Josh Ritchie for The New York Times


Even many of Mr. Trump’s potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination snapped into line behind him in the hours after news of the indictment broke, looking more like allies than competitors. All passed on the opportunity to criticize the former president — and some rushed to his defense — in a sign of just how reluctant 2024 contenders are to directly confront him and antagonize his many millions of supporters in the party.

Mike Pence — the former vice president whose life was put at risk when Jan. 6 rioters sought him out after Mr. Trump blamed him for allowing Congress to ratify the results of the 2020 election — denounced the indictment for what he called “a campaign finance issue” as an “outrage” and a “political prosecution.”

Speaking at the National Review Institute in Washington, Mr. Pence said that Mr. Bragg’s prosecution “should be offensive to every American left, right and center,” and that he believed that “the American people will see this for what it is.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a potential presidential candidate who has clashed with Mr. Trump, also rushed to his defense, posting on Twitter that the indictment was “un-American” and amounted to “the weaponization of the legal system.”

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A few in the G.O.P. remained silent, among them Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and Senator John Thune, the second-ranking Senate Republican. Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, who is also flirting with a presidential run, appeared to be keeping mum, as well. So too was Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and one-time Trump ally who is considering a 2024 run for president and who recently vowed that he would never again support the former president.

The indictment in Manhattan concerns hush money payments made in the final days of the 2016 campaign to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film star who had threatened to go public with her claim that she had a short affair with Mr. Trump a decade earlier.

Ms. Daniels was paid USD 130000 not to speak publicly about her claims, and the payments were channelled through Mr. Trump’s fixer and personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, who has said Mr. Trump approved the scheme.

The Manhattan case is likely to hinge on the way Mr. Trump and his company, the Trump Organisation, handled reimbursing Mr. Cohen. Internal Trump Organisation records falsely classified the reimbursements as legal expenses, helping conceal the purpose of the payments, according to Mr. Cohen. Mr. Trump’s lawyers deny this.

In New York, falsifying business records can be a felony if it is done to cover up another crime, and in this case prosecutors are expected to argue that the underlying crime was a violation of campaign finance law. The exact charges, however, will not be unsealed until Tuesday when Mr. Trump is brought before Justice Juan M. Merchan, a New York County jurist with 16 years on the bench, who has been assigned to handle the case.

Justice Merchan also oversaw the criminal tax fraud trial of Mr. Trump’s family real estate firm late last year.

On Friday, Mr. Trump took aim at Justice Merchan on Truth Social, claiming that the judge hated him and that he had “railroaded” Allen H. Weisselberg, a former executive of the Trump Organization who has pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges.


The indictment in Manhattan concerns hush money payments made in the final days of 2016 to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film star.Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Mr. Trump is also under investigation in Georgia, where prosecutors in Fulton County are expected to make a decision soon on whether to seek an indictment against him and his allies over their efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.

Mr. Trump famously made a call to the state secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, urging him to “find 11,780 votes,” which would have given him a victory in the state.

A special grand jury has heard evidence in the Georgia case and produced a final report, though its recommendations on charges remain under seal.

In Washington, a Justice Department special counsel is leading two separate investigations, into Mr. Trump’s broader actions to cling to power after his 2020 electoral defeat and into his hoarding of documents marked as classified after leaving office.

If the other criminal investigations result in charges, there is no guarantee that the New York case will be the first to go to trial.

“The fact that New York is first to indict does not mean it will be the first to try,” said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor. “A federal indictment will be swifter if it comes.”

Mr. Gillers noted that New York is more receptive to pretrial appeals than federal courts, meaning there will be many opportunities for Mr. Trump’s lawyers to delay a trial in the state by filing motions seeking, for instance, a change of venue or to remove a judge.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is also under pressure from House Republicans, who have used their investigative power to demand the district attorney turn over documents and testimony related to the Trump investigation, an extraordinary attempt by members of Congress to intervene in a criminal inquiry.

Mr. Bragg’s office fired back in a letter on Friday, accusing three Republican committee chairmen who demanded documents — Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio on the Judiciary Committee, James R. Comer of Kentucky on the Oversight Committee and Bryan Steil of Wisconsin on the Administration Committee — of aiding a campaign to denigrate the district attorney’s office.

The letter noted that before being indicted, Mr. Trump had used his social media platform to insult Mr. Bragg and threaten “death and destruction” if he were charged.

“You could use the stature of your office to denounce these attacks and urge respect for the fairness of our justice system and for the work of the impartial grand jury,” wrote Leslie Dubeck, the general counsel for the district attorney’s office.