NEW YORK – 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 will soon know the answers after Mr Trump became the first former US president to be indicted, meaning he faces criminal charges.
The decision to indict Mr Trump in connection with alleged “hush money” payments to conceal an intimate encounter with former porn star Stormy Daniels was voted on overnight by a grand jury in New York.
The announcement is 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 is expected to face more than 30 counts of falsifying business records over the $130,000 (£106,000) 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.
Mr Trump is expected to surrender to authorities early next week, possibly as soon as Tuesday, and 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.
A spokesman for the office of Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, confirmed the indictment and said prosecutors had reached out to Mr Trump’s defence team to co-ordinate a surrender.
Mr Trump is expected 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 lift 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 “perp 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 probably 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 6 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 that 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. Protests have so far been muted, but New York City is now ramping up security again, with Fox New host Tucker Carlson and other pundits from the network calling for action and predicting “unrest”.
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 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 allegedly interfering in the election and by a Special Counsel for allegedly 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.