WASHINGTON – Donald Trump and his allies are trying to make a political spectacle in the next two days out of an unprecedented legal event: the arraignment of a former president.
In addition to an evening speech Tuesday from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida – hours after the arraignment in New York City – Trump and aides plan to condemn the indictment and promote his 2024 presidential candidacy during his travels to and from the courthouse.
“America was not supposed to be this way!” Trump said in a Truth Social post late Sunday.
The Trump campaign already has begun fundraising off the indictment.
Details are still being developed, Trump campaign aides said, but here is some of what to expect:
Trump flying to New York on Monday
Trump – accompanied by his Secret Service detail – plans to travel at noon Monday from his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., to New York City, he said in his Truth Social post. He is scheduled to spend the night at his long-owned apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to aides.
The departure is scheduled for midday, and the precise time won’t be a secret for long.
Television cameras from across the world are trained on Trump’s plane at a South Florida airport, and video of him boarding is quite likely to surface.
Trump may also stop to speak with reporters some time during the trip.
Trump to go to NY courthouse Tuesday
Trump’s trip to the courthouse was expected to come sometime Tuesday morning, aides said, and details were still being worked on.
One of those details: whether Trump will appear before supporters expected to gather at the courthouse to protest the indictment. The protests have triggered security concerns, and authorities could get Trump into the courthouse via underground entrances.
Will Trump have a perp walk?
Trump’s attorneys downplayed the idea that the former president would be subject to a “perp walk,” which is typically when a defendant is escorted into the courthouse accompanied by law enforcement officials for the benefit of photographers.
“Hopefully, this will be as painless and classy as possible for a situation like this,” said Trump attorney Joe Tacopina, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Will Trump have fingerprints and a mug shot taken?
Once inside the courthouse, Trump is expected to be treated like most defendants: He will be booked, fingerprinted, DNA-swabbed and seated for mug shots that will no doubt be flashed across the world.
The arraignment is the only legal matter specifically scheduled: 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, when Trump is expected to plead not guilty.
Shortly after that, Trump will depart New York for Mar-a-Lago to deliver the only currently scheduled political event: the 8:15 p.m. speech Tuesday.
Trump team making the case politically
Along the way, Trump and allies can be counted upon to campaign against the indictment, claiming the case that involves hush money and campaign finance laws is a politically motivated attack.
The Trump team plans to use interviews, public statements and social media posts and to focus much of its political attack on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Running against the law:Donald Trump’s biggest campaign foe? A string of investigations – and possible indictments
Over the weekend, the Trump campaign released a “polling memo” saying Republican voters are rallying around him. The memo claimed Trump received “a significant increase over his opponents in full-field and one-on-one primary election ballot tests.”
Other 2024 Republicans weigh in
Most of the Republican presidential aspirants who plan to challenge Trump also have criticized the indictment, though there is at least one exception.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who announced Sunday that he will seek the nomination for 2024, said Trump should exit the race while under indictment.
“I do think that’s too much of a sideshow and distraction,” he told ABC’s “This Week.” “And he needs to be able to concentrate on his due process, and there is a presumption of innocence.”
Polls show divide on Trump’s strategy
The arraignment and surrounding events may be just a phase of Trump’s political-legal battle: He also is under investigation in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta over the handling of classified documents, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and any culpability for the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
Early polls after the New York indictment show a divided electorate as Trump plans his political strategy.
According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday: 88% of Democrats say Trump should have been charged, and 62% of Republicans say the former president should not have been charged.
The poll also shows that a plurality of Americans are taking the indictment seriously: 50% of Americans think the charges against Trump are serious, and 35% say they are not serious.