Former US president Donald Trump is expected to appear in a New York court early next week as he faces more than 30 charges of business fraud surrounding a so-called “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The former president is to be charged after a grand jury in New York voted to indict him after investigating a $130,000 pay-out to Ms Daniels in an attempt to buy her silence over an alleged affair before the 2016 election.
Reports coming out of the US claim Mr Trump was taken by surprise at the timing of the charges and his team were scrambling to decide on its next moves.
Last week, Mr Trump even hinted that he believed the case against him was falling apart when he said he had “gained great respect for this Grand Jury”.
In a comment posted in block capitals on Wednesday on his Truth Social network, he added: “The evidence is so overwhelming in my favor, and so ridiculously bad for the highly partisan and hateful district attorney, that the Grand Jury is saying, hold on, we are not a rubber stamp, which most Grand Juries are branded as being, we are not going to vote against a preponderance of evidence or against large numbers of legal scholars all saying there is no case here.”
How will Donald Trump be arrested?
The businessman-turned-politician is expected to return to his old Manhattan stomping ground to plead not guilty before a judge at New York’s criminal court on Tuesday.
While Mr Trump will not be placed in handcuffs, he has been ordered to “surrender himself” to the office of Manhattan 37th District Attorney (DA), Alvin Bragg.
A statement from Mr Bragg’s office said: “This evening we contacted Mr Trump’s attorney to co-ordinate his surrender to the Manhattan DA’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.”
Accompanied by his a team of lawyers and his security detail, Mr Trump will travel from his Miami mansion Mar-a-Lago to New York. On his arrival at the DA’s office, his arrest may create a media circus outside the building, but once inside the process will be almost identical as it would be for any US citizen.
The only concession to be afforded Mr Trump is expected to be that his security detail will be offered a room to base themselves during the remainder of the process.
Will he go to jail?
After his surrender, Mr Trump will be taken upstairs to the detective squad room and fingerprinted. Following the fingerprinting, Mr Trump will be photographed for his arrest mugshot.
The former president will then be brought to the arraignment before a judge where he will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. Mr Trump is expected to pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Due to Mr Trump’s lack of a criminal record, he is widely expected to be released on bail “under his own recognisance” pending a return to court at a later date should the trial not collapse during the interim period.
It is not expected that Mr Trump will be remanded in custody.
What does this mean for his 2024 presidential bid?
Despite becoming the first sitting or former US president to face criminal charges, many of Mr Trump’s allies believe the case will actually enhance his chances of securing the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election.
Loyalist Ted Cruz said on his podcast the prosecution “could be the single biggest in-kind gift to the Donald Trump campaign of this entire cycle”.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a former chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the action by the Manhattan DA was “just legal boohoo”.
He added: “You got a misdemeanour that’s been made a felony. Nobody in the history of New York City has ever been prosecuted under this theory, except for Donald J Trump.
“This case will follow like a cheap suit under legal scrutiny. Give the president some money to fight this bullshit.
“This is gonna destroy America. We’re gonna fight back at the ballot box. We’re not gonna give in. How does this end Sean? Trump wins in court and he wins the election.”
Even some of Mr Trump’s detractors believe the case could boost his bid to return to the White House.
Reports suggest Ron DeSantis, Mr Trump’s main rival for the Republican nomination, criticised the case.
“The weaponisation of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head,” Mr DeSantis wrote on Twitter.
Nicholas Creel, a political analyst at Georgia College and State University, said Mr Trump’s base in the “Grand Old Party (GOP)” was “simply too bought-in” to abandon him.
“Even now, we see Trump’s Republican competitors, such as former vice president Pence, actively defending him in this scandal instead of using it to attack him for his own gain,” he told news agency AFP.
“This indicates that Trump’s GOP rivals fully understand how his base has an unshakable cult-like devotion to him, one that isn’t letting up any time soon.”