Donald Trump broke cover on Saturday afternoon to board his private jet hours after he declared he’d be arrested on Tuesday over claims he paid porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their alleged affair.
In exclusive pictures taken by DailyMail.com, Trump was seen getting on his Trump-branded Boeing 757 from Florida to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend the NCAA Wrestling tournament at the BOK Center.
The president, who was escorted by a large security detail, has spent this morning railing against prosecutors in New York who are expected to indict him over payments of $130,000 to Daniels, a porn star, during the run up to the 2016 election.
They claim those payments – made by Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen – represent an illegal use of campaign finances.
The former president was wearing a suit and tie and headed aboard a plane to watch a competition of the best college wrestlers in the country.
Trump had earlier urged his supporters to ‘protest, protest, protest’ against the imminent charges with a inflammatory post made to his TruthSocial platform.
In exclusive pictures taken by DailyMail.com, Trump was seen getting on his Trump-branded Boeing 757, hours after railing online against New York prosecutors who are expected to charge him soon over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels to keep their alleged affair quiet
The president, who was escorted by a large security detail, was wearing a suit and tie and headed aboard a plane to watch a competition of the best college wrestlers in the country
Trump’s private Boeing 757 on the tarmac at an airport in Florida, where the former president has been holed up at his Mar-a-Lago resort
Trump boarded the flight hours after a post, written entirely in capital letters, called on his supporters to protest for him
Trump claimed on his Truth Social account that the Manhattan DA’s office will arrest him within days and branded the probe ‘corrupt and highly political’, calling the alleged hush money payment an ‘old and fully debunked fairy-tale.’
He urged his supporters to demonstrate against the criminal case – triggering concern among law enforcement officials that his words could be interpreted as a call to violence.
Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will meet today to discuss how to handle the announcement of Trump’s indictment and arrest.
Officials are also beefing up security around New York County’s Supreme Court in anticipation of protests.
If Trump’s claims about an imminent arrest are true, it would make him the first former president ever to face criminal charges. His post came hours after it was claimed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was planning on indicting Trump next week.
Senior Republicans led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy were quick to brand the investigation politically-motivated and legal experts have also questioned whether the case has any merit.
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man said if he’s charged, Trump would ‘be re-elected in a landslide victory’ in the 2024 presidential election.
Trump had a large team of security personnel and bag-carriers with him as he boarded his plane
The president is headed to a tournament of the country’s best college wrestlers in Tulsa
Trump’s lawyer said the former president continues to deny the substance of the allegations of a sexual relationship with Daniels (pictured with Trump), calling the $130,000 a ‘nuisance payment’ that wealthy or famous people sometimes pay to make a distracting situation disappear
A spokesman for Trump said that he is ‘rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system’.
Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House, said: ‘Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.
‘I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.’
Last week the former president and 2024 hopeful was invited to testify before a Manhattan grand jury, with his long-time fixer and former lawyer Michael Cohen testifying on Monday.
Cohen served jail time after pleading guilty in two criminal cases, one of which included using campaign finances in relation to Daniels and another woman who allegedly had an affair with Trump.
He said he had been acting at his command and that the payoffs were supposed to keep the affair stories out of public knowledge before the 2016 election. Trump has admitted reimbursing Cohen
Daniels met with prosecutors on Wednesday to answer further questions in the case and her lawyer, Clark Brewster, said she would also make herself available as a witness in future, if required.
Trump branded Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg ‘corrupt and highly political’, calling the alleged hush money payment an ‘old and fully debunked fairy-tale
Elon Musk, pictured at the 2022 Met gala, believes criminal charges against Trump will help achieve reelection in the 2024 presidential race
Trump claims he will be arrested by the Manhattan DA’s office – with Musk saying it would mean a ‘landslide victory’ for the former presidents re-election campaign
Speculation that charges were imminent also increased when Bragg told Trump’s team that the former president could testify before the grand jury if he so chose -a notification usually at the end of a process that could mean an indictment is near.
Trump could face one of two charges over the payments – but lawyers have said that both would be difficult to prove.
He could be charged with falsifying business records if it’s alleged Trump knew his retainer agreement with Cohen was a sham to facilitate the payments. That would be a misdemeanor under New York law unless prosecutors prove records were falsified to conceal another crime, which would make it a felony.
That other crime could be that the payments violated state election law because the intention of the alleged pay off was to benefit his campaign.
Trump could face up to four years in prison on those charges.
But experts also say the former president could still be reelected if he’s charged or even convicted over the issue. Trump has already maintained he ‘wouldn’t even think about leaving’ the race if he’s charged.
The U.S. Constitution does not say a candidate cannot run if they have a criminal record. The conditions are simply that a candidate is a natural born citizen who is at least 35 years old and has been resident of the U.S. for 14 years or longer.
Kate Shaw, a legal analyst and professor at Cardozo School of Law, told ABC: ‘There’s nothing in the Constitution disqualifying individuals convicted of crimes from running for or serving as president.’
Any issues are likely to be practical, rather than legal, Shaw said, such as imprisonment making campaigning ‘difficult if not impossible’.
Daniels met with prosecutors on Wednesday to answer further questions in the case and tweeted her thanks to her attorney for ‘helping me in our continuing fight for truth and justice’
Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, also said this week that an indictment was ‘more probable’ because of the recent developments.
‘But the one thing I still hold on to is hope that justice will prevail,’ he said.
Tacopina also said he hopes Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office ‘won’t stoop to the level of Mark Pomerantz, who was out there looking for a crime that fits the person.’
Tacopina referred to a memoir by former Manhattan Special Assistant District Attorney Mark Pomerantz, who led the office’s investigation into Trump for a year beginning in February 2021.
In a letter sent to the New York City’s Department of Investigation commissioner last Friday, Trump’s attorney accused Bragg and his predecessor, Cyrus Vance, Jr., of conducting a ‘politically motivated investigation.’
The prosecutors ‘weaponized’ their office, Tacopina wrote, ‘scouring every aspect of President Trump’s personal life and business affairs, going back decades, in the hopes of finding some legal basis — however far-fetched, novel or convoluted — to prosecute him.’
Vance has said ‘it is hard to argue the previous investigations were politically motivated’.
A Trump spokesman said: ‘There has been no notification, other than illegal leaks from the Justice Dept. and the DA’s office, to NBC and other fake news carriers, that the George Soros-funded Radical Left Democrat prosecutor in Manhattan has decided to take his Witch-Hunt to the next level. President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system. He will be in Texas next weekend for a giant rally. Make America Great Again!’ – Trump spokesperson.’