Former President Donald Trump’s claim that he would be arrested Tuesday had not materialized by early evening on the East Coast, but U.S. House Republicans harshly criticized any such move as an abuse of prosecutorial authority.
In an all-caps post to his social media site, Truth Social, on Saturday, Trump predicted that he would be arrested Tuesday on charges he said were fabricated by a politically motivated prosecutor in Manhattan. He used the specter of his indictment to galvanize his supporters, calling for protests.
“THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK,” he wrote, referring to himself in the third person. “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
But at the close of business on the East Coast, Trump had not been arrested, and widespread protests had not broken out, though a small group of Trump supporters did gather at the Louisiana Capitol.
The grounds surrounding the U.S. Capitol, the site of the Jan. 6 insurrection that Trump encouraged, were quiet late Tuesday afternoon. A bicyclist rode across the East Front plaza, children played nearby and a dog was having a photo shoot.
A New York grand jury is reportedly investigating payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf during the 2016 presidential race to keep her from disclosing their alleged affair. Trump has denied a sexual relationship with Daniels.
U.S. House Republicans followed Trump’s lead in criticizing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for what they said was an unfair prosecution of the former president that would undermine confidence in the next presidential election. Trump, who lost reelection in 2020 after one term in office, was the first major candidate to announce he was running for the GOP nomination for president in 2024.
A trio of House committee leaders, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and Administration Chairman Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, sent Bragg a four-page letter on Monday attacking the prosecution and asking for documents related to it.
“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority,” the letter began.
Echoing Trump’s criticisms, the House members accused Bragg of “searching for a basis — any basis” to prosecute the former president.
Bragg’s office said prosecutors would not be deterred by the congressional letter.
“We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law,” a spokesperson for the New York County District Attorney’s Office said in an email to States Newsroom.
House Republicans also attempted to use the possibility of an arrest to fundraise and build a campaign list.
“The Radical Left is trying to use this latest witch hunt to intimidate you,” an email from the National Republican Congressional Committee said. “House Republicans will stand strong against these fear tactics and threats. But we can’t do it alone. Our country is at a turning point. We need every single patriot to immediately condemn this witch hunt.”
The email then asks for supporters to click a link to “condemn the witch hunt.” The link leads to a page where users can make a campaign contribution and provide their personal information to the committee.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential Trump rival for the Republican nomination for president next year, offered a criticism of Bragg at a Monday press conference, while also reminding viewers of the misbehavior of which Trump is accused.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” DeSantis said. “But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who … chooses to go back many, many years ago to try and use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office.”
If Trump were indicted, it would be a historic event. No sitting or former president has been criminally indicted.
Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.