Will Donald Trump be handcuffed in court? Will he face a humiliating perp walk? And could he skip his first appearance and do it by Zoom?

We may have answers to these questions as soon as Tuesday when Mr Trump could become the first former US president to be indicted, the American term for criminally charged.

The decision on whether to indict Mr Trump in connection with alleged “hush money” payments to conceal an intimate encounter with former porn star Stormy Daniels is expected to be taken by a grand jury in New York.

The former president has claimed he expects to be arrested on Tuesday.

The announcement will be momentous for America with wide-reaching implications, not least for the 2024 presidential election which Mr Trump is running in.

It will be a test of Mr Trump’s brand like never before and could galvanise the hardcore Trump faithful – but risks turning off voters in battleground states.

Mr Trump faces being charged with falsifying business records over the $130,000 hush money payment in the run up to the 2016 election.

Charging him has taken years of investigations and the Manhattan District Attorney is the office that will be bringing the case.

NEW YORK, US - MARCH 20: Protestors hold signs outside the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in New York, US, on Monday, March 20, 2023. (Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Protestors hold signs outside the office of Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, in New York (Photo: Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

But the most immediate issues are the logistical and security challenges of getting the former president into court for his first appearance, or arraignment in American terms.

After Mr Trump demanded on social media that his supporters “take our nation back” the New York Police Department (NYPD) put barricades outside the court in lower Manhattan in anticipation of unrest.

Reports on Monday night said the NYPD was taking a similar approach to when New York hosts the UN General Assembly, during which a large section of Manhattan is put under lockdown with no vehicular traffic and everyone requiring a pass to enter.

There is speculation that, due to security concerns, the hearing may be done remotely, but the prospect of one of the most consequential cases in modern American history happening on Zoom doesn’t feel right.

If Mr Trump is treated the same as every other defendant, he will have to fly to New York from his estate in Florida and surrender to the District Attorney’s office, which is above the criminal court.

He will be taken by elevator to a room where he will have his mugshot taken and give his fingerprints and will be formally booked into the system.

Normally defendants are given a perk walk in handcuffs through the halls of the court, running a gauntlet of photographers and journalists who lob questions at them.

While Mr Trump will likely have to navigate such a scrum, he will reportedly avoid being cuffed and will have a dozen Secret Service agents by his side.

He will almost certainly be released on bail as well, though it remains to be seen if he will have to remain in New York or if he will be free to travel.

The response from the Republican establishment to the case has been to tread a delicate tightrope of criticising the prosecution while calling for peace.

Mindful of creating another January 6th on the streets of Manhattan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that “nobody should harm one another” and claimed Mr Trump felt the same.

Mike Pence, Mr Trump’s vice president who is almost certainly running against him in 2024, called the prosecution “politically charged”, one of the few nice things he has said about his former friend in recent weeks.

Even Ali Alexander, one of the organisers of the “Stop the Steal” rallies which promoted Mr Trump’s baseless theories about election fraud in 2020, warned Trump supporters they would be “jailed or worse” if they turned out in New York.

A protest organised by the New York Young Republican Club on Monday was peaceful with only a few dozen people turning up.

But the New York Daily News reported that NYPD intelligence and counterterrorism Chief Thomas Galati said during a briefing that a pro-Trump group was set to gather outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday and march to the courthouse.

They may be joined by a car caravan coming from Long Island to “escort them”, Mr Galati said.

Mr Trump is already using the prosecution to raise money for his reelection campaign and won the support of Elon Musk who said he would be guaranteed a second term if the case goes ahead.

For a candidate whose campaign is built on grievance and victimhood, what could be greater evidence of the Deep State working against him than this?

But for voters it is not a good look and the consensus is that it will damage Mr Trump’s chances against Joe Biden.

The very real possibility that Mr Trump could be facing jail – up to four years if he is found guilty of the expected charges – will chill the kinds of swing voters in suburbs that decide elections.

The New York case isn’t the only legal peril facing Mr Trump, who could be charged by prosecutors in Georgia over interfering in the election and by a Special Counsel for illegally retaining classified documents after leaving office.

It’s hard not to feel that the net is closing in on a man who counts ‘The Teflon Don’ among his nicknames.

The question is whether he can conjure up another escape, as he has so many times before.

By admin