Donald Trump supporters plan protest outside New York courtroom for arraignment

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Donald Trump has said the investigation over his hush money payments is a politically motivated “witch hunt”.

New York City police have cordoned off streets, thrown up metal barriers, and called in more officers as they brace for pro-Donald Trump protests outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse.

The former US President is due to be arraigned later today (4 April) after a grand jury voted to indict him over a $130,000 hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels. The wire transfer was reportedly sent by Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen just days before the 2016 presidential election.

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Trump, who is now the first former or serving US President to ever face criminal charges, has slammed the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt”. Writing on his social media platform Truth Social, the 76-year-old also warned his supporters that the case is an “assault on our nation” - and pledged that their “movement” will “defeat” both Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s District Attorney, and current President Joe Biden to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

It is widely expected then that swathes of protesters will turn up at the courthouse in a show of solidarity with Trump. Some of his most high-profile supporters have already announced their intention to demonstrate, with Republican lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene scheduled to speak at a rally in New York in protest against “this unprecedented abuse of our justice system and election interference.”

Meanwhile, on online forums - such as the ones where the January 6 attack on the US Capitol was planned - Trump enthusiasts have been debating how best to support his call to “Take Our Country Back.”

New York City police have cordoned off streets, thrown up metal barriers, and called in more officers as they brace for pro-Donald Trump protests outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. Credit: Mark Hall / NationalWorldNew York City police have cordoned off streets, thrown up metal barriers, and called in more officers as they brace for pro-Donald Trump protests outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. Credit: Mark Hall / NationalWorld
New York City police have cordoned off streets, thrown up metal barriers, and called in more officers as they brace for pro-Donald Trump protests outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. Credit: Mark Hall / NationalWorld | Mark Hall / NationalWorld

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has said there are no credible threats to the city, but a range of preparations - which are said to involve the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Secret Service - have been put in place in an attempt to best mitigate any potential fallout.

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Roads surrounding the courthouse and Trump Tower have been blocked off with barricades, and there will be an increased police presence so that cops are on hand for crowd control. The Manhattan Criminal Courthouse will not be operating at usual capacity, so that officials and staff can focus on any issues surrounding Trump.

In a memo seen by NBC, NYPD officers were told to be prepared for “unusual disorder” - while in one obtained by local news channel PIX11, cops were told to all report for duty and patrol in uniform. The NYPD said in a statement: “The department remains ready and available to respond to protests and counter-protests.”

Supporters of Donald Trump gather at Trump Tower in New York on April 3, 2023. Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images.Supporters of Donald Trump gather at Trump Tower in New York on April 3, 2023. Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images.
Supporters of Donald Trump gather at Trump Tower in New York on April 3, 2023. Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images. | AFP via Getty Images

Outside of protests, another security issue law enforcement officials have to deal with is a surge of violent threats against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg - who Trump has attacked as a “degenerate psychopath that truly hates the USA”.

Bragg has been targeted with a series of racist attacks and death threats since he resurrected the criminal prosecution into Trump’s hush money payments, and last week, received a typewritten letter threatening him with assassination. The letter also contained a white powder, but the NYPD told Time that the substance was later found to be non-hazardous.

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The former US President has also attacked officials who work with Bragg - as well as the judge assigned to his case - Judge Juan Manuel Merchan. “The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME,” Trump claimed on Truth Social.

In an email sent to his staff, first seen by Politico, Bragg wrote: “Please know that your safety is our top priority. Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place.”

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