Former President Donald Trump increased his criticism against the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into a hush money payment made during his 2016 campaign, warning of “potential death and destruction” if he is prosecuted in the case in an overnight post on his Truth Social site.
Trump tweeted last weekend that sources indicated he will be arrested as part of the investigation and urged his followers to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” Since then, he has used social media to target Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, promoting his “removal” from the post and saying that the investigation is politically motivated despite the lack of evidence.
However, Trump’s early Friday post on Truth Social is his most explicit reference to violence yet, matching his increased speech during the events leading up to his supporters’ attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“What kind of person can charge another person, in this case, a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?” Trump wrote. “Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truly [sic] hates the USA!”
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen has testified against his previous employer in the DA’s inquiry. Cohen alleges that Trump authorized him to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to silence her about an alleged affair with Trump, something the former president has denied repeatedly. Bragg is looking into whether Trump fabricated business papers to reimburse Cohen for $130,000 in legal expenses.
Republican politicians have rallied around the former president since he predicted he would be imprisoned, calling on Bragg to appear before Congress using their House majority. Several people refused to comment on Trump’s “death and destruction” post on Friday. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a close Trump friend, denied seeing the message. Jordan stated that he can’t read without glasses when offered a copy by NBC News.
Asked Rep. Jim Jordan what he makes of Trump’s warning about “potential death & destruction” if indicted; Jordan said he hasn’t seen Trump’s post. When I showed this to him on my phone, he said he can’t read well without his glasses. He added he’s reviewing DA Bragg’s letter. pic.twitter.com/24QfpyVdpV— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 24, 2023
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., a close Trump ally, said Sunday people should not protest if Trump is indicted. “Nobody should harm one another …We want calmness out there,” McCarthy told reporters. In a Thursday post, Trump pushed back on suggestions that people remain calm. “OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!” he wrote.
So far, supporters have reacted subduedly to Trump’s call to action, with small crowds condemning the DA’s actions. According to law enforcement officials, the FBI and NYPD were investigating a death threat addressed to Bragg on Friday that was accompanied by a small amount of white powder.
Trump faces a separate investigation by the Justice Department’s special counsel probing his behavior in connection with his supporters’ Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. Trump used speech that fired up his followers before the riots and violence, posting on social media, “Be there, will be wild!”