- Trump is expected to travel Monday to New York, where he will stay in Trump Tower.
- Trump is set to be arraigned Tuesday on the first criminal charges against an ex-president.
- Legal experts warn against criticizing judge ahead of trial.
Donald Trump is expected to fly Monday from Florida to New York, in anticipation of his arraignment Tuesday as the first former president ever charged criminally.
And Trump announced he will speak at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday from Mar-a-Lago, a chance to make his case in the court of public opinion as well as in the 2024 presidential race. He got another rival Sunday when former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared his candidacy.
Trump is expected to have his mug shot and fingerprints taken, have the formal charges read and then plead not guilty “loudly and proudly,” his lawyer Joe Tacopina told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. But the details haven’t been nailed down because the Secret Service will accompany Trump, he said.
Witnesses before the grand jury have described hush-money payments Trump directed former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to make to silence two women who claimed to have had sex with Trump before the 2016 election.
Legal experts expect a combination of misdemeanor charges alleging falsification of business records about the payments, combined with a felony such as a campaign finance violation. But Trump has denied wrongdoing and Tacopina said there is no documentation of false business records.
Here is what we expect in the case to start the week:
Lawyers for Trump, Cohen each bank on credibility in arguing charges
Tacopina and Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, foreshadowed the fight over credibility Sunday in any eventual trial.
Tacopina called Cohen a convicted liar who “is constitutionally incapable of telling the same story the same way twice.” Tacopina said there is no documentation of Trump falsifying business records, the central charges anticipated in the indictment, which remains under seal.
“I know there is no such evidence,” Tacopina said. “Michael Cohen is a pathological, convicted liar.”
Davis said Cohen and other witnesses have provided testimony and documentation. Cohen has already been imprisoned in part because he arranged for $280,000 in hush payments to Stormy Daniels, a porn actress, and Karen McDougal, a Playboy model.
“Michael Cohen submitted a lot of documentation,” Davis said. “There are other documents from other people and other testimony from other people.”
Trump lawyer expects ‘painless and classy’ arraignment
Tacopina said he’s participated in hundreds of arraignments but never had the Secret Service involved before. He doesn’t expect to make detailed legal arguments because the charges will be freshly unveiled.
“Hopefully this will be as painless and classy as possible,” Tacopina said.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will explain the charges in detail, but legal experts don’t expect all the evidence behind the charges to be revealed.
Trump has criticized the judge, Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who oversaw the case against the Trump Organization. But Tacopina said he had no problem with Merchan.
“I have no reason to believe the judge is biased,” Tacopina said.
Cyrus Vance Jr., the former Manhattan district attorney, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” the judge would seek firm control over the case.
“He’s going to want to set a firm trial date. He’s going to want to maintain firm control over all the parties,” Vance said. That could end up in some flare-ups between the parties and the court.
Trump to speak Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago
Trump’s campaign announced he would deliver remarks Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. at Mar-a-Lago.
He has been posting on his social media platform, Truth Social, his criticism of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and what he calls a politically motivated prosecution. But the speech will be a chance for voters – and potential jurors – to hear his reaction to the charges.
Vance expected Cohen to be “attacked heavily.” But Vance warned against allegedly breaking any other laws, such as obstruction of governmental administration, which could strengthen a case some observers consider “not the strongest.”
“It can change the jury’s mind about the severity of the case they’re looking at,” Vance said.