Former US president Donald Trump will be arraigned on Tuesday after his indictment in Manhattan, his formal surrender and arrest presenting the historic, shocking scene of a former US commander in chief forced to stand before a judge.
As Trump and his lawyers prepared for his defence, the prosecutor in his hush money case defended the grand jury investigation that propelled him towards trial while congressional Republicans painted it all as politically motivated.
“We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your demand for information, and let the criminal justice process proceed without unlawful political interference,” Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg wrote to three Republican House committee chairs on Friday in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
The case is plunging the US into uncharted legal waters, with Trump the first former president ever to face an indictment.
Top Republicans have begun closing ranks around him.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has promised to use congressional oversight to probe Mr Bragg.
Representatives James Comer, Jim Jordan and Bryan Steil, the committee chairs whom Mr Bragg addressed in his letter, have asked the district attorney’s office for grand jury testimony, documents and copies of any communications with the Justice Department.
Trump’s indictment came after a grand jury probe into hush money paid during the 2016 presidential campaign to squelch allegations of an extramarital sexual encounter. The indictment itself has remained sealed, as is standard in New York before an arraignment.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and denounced the investigation as a “scam”. He argues that it is specifically designed to damage his 2024 presidential run.
Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina said during TV interviews on Friday he would “very aggressively” challenge the legal validity of the Manhattan grand jury indictment.
Trump was asked to surrender on Friday, but his lawyers said the Secret Service, which protects him as a former president, needed more time to make security preparations, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
Mr Bragg’s office said it had contacted Trump’s lawyer to coordinate a surrender. Ahead of the court’s announcement of the arraignment date, Mr Tacopina said that Tuesday was the likely date for Trump to turn himself in.
When Trump goes into custody he is not expected to be put in handcuffs, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Secret Service agents will escort him through the booking process at the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the person said.
For weeks, court officials and representatives from the district attorney’s office, the New York Police Department and US Secret Service have been discussing logistics and planning for a Trump indictment.
The person could not publicly discuss details of the preparations, and thus spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Trump will be fingerprinted, a mug shot will be taken, investigators will complete arrest paperwork and do a check to see if he has any outstanding criminal charges or warrants. That all happens away from the public.
The former president would then appear before a judge for an afternoon arraignment.
The investigation dug into six-figure payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both claim to have had sexual encounters with the married Trump years before he got into politics; he denies having sexual liaisons with either woman.
As Trump ran for president in 2016, his allies paid the women to bury their allegations. The publisher of the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer paid Ms McDougal 150,000 dollars for rights to her story and sat on it, in an arrangement brokered by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
After Mr Cohen himself paid Ms Daniels 130,000 dollars, Trump’s company reimbursed him, added bonuses and logged the payments to Cohen as legal expenses.
Federal prosecutors argued — in a 2018 criminal case against Mr Cohen — that the payments equated to illegal aid to Trump’s campaign.
Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violation charges, but federal prosecutors did not go after Trump, who was then in the White House. However, some of their court filings obliquely implicated him as someone who knew about the payment arrangements.
The New York indictment came as Trump contends with other investigations that could have grave legal consequences.
In Atlanta, prosecutors are considering whether he committed any crimes when trying to get Georgia officials to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss there to Joe Biden.
At the federal level, a Justice Department-appointed special counsel also is investigating Trump’s efforts to unravel the national election results. Additionally, the special counsel is examining how and why Trump held onto a cache of top secret government documents at his Florida club and residence, Mar-a-Lago, and whether the ex-president or his representatives tried to obstruct the probe into those documents.
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