What to Know
- The Manhattan DA is planning to bring the grand jury weighing potential charges against former President Trump back to continue their work on Thursday, after instructing them to stay home on Wednesday, according to two sources familiar with the matter
- It's not clear why Alvin Bragg's office told the grand jury to stay home. They last heard testimony from Trump ally Robert Costello Monday, where he sought to discredit Michael Cohen
- If the Manhattan grand jury were to indict Trump, it would mark the first criminal charges against a former or sitting U.S. president. Any charges, or conviction, though, wouldn't ban him from running
The Manhattan district attorney is planning to bring the grand jury weighing potential charges against former President Donald Trump back to continue their work on Thursday, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
It comes after DA Alvin Bragg instructed the members of the grand jury to stay home on Wednesday rather than reconvene as planned, sources told NBC New York. The reason for the delay was unclear, including whether it may involve another potential witness to be heard.
Bragg's office declined comment later in the day, saying it couldn't speak on grand jury matters. The proceedings have been shrouded in secrecy.
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On Monday, the grand jury, which had according to multiple sources been prepared as of Friday to issue an indictment decision as early as this week, heard from Trump ally Robert Costello, who sought to discredit the prosecution's key witness: former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen.
NBC News confirmed prosecutors had been upset with Cohen’s appearance on Ari Melber's MSNBC show and reached out to his attorney to tell him Cohen should not make any further TV appearances.
The latest developments come five days after Trump announced to the world he expected to be arrested and urged his supporters to "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST" in New York City, where throngs of fully uniformed NYPD, Secret Service and other officers secured the Manhattan Criminal Court perimeter ahead of a possible grand jury indictment.
Protests have been intermittent and largely muted thus far. A few members of the New York Young Republican's Club donned MAGA hats and rallied outside Manhattan Criminal Court earlier this week, and a barricaded Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan has been the scene of a handful of impromptu demonstrations.
It's unclear if any potential organized actions could intensify should the grand jury opt to indict Trump, which would be the first indictment of a sitting or former U.S. president in history. But with the pall of the Jan. 6 insurrection still looming large, the NYPD, and its law enforcement partners at all levels of government, are preparing accordingly.
NYPD officers of every rank were ordered to wear their uniforms and prepare for deployment starting Tuesday, according to an internal memo obtained by News 4.
The memo, sent by the commanding officer of the NYPD's operations division, instructed all uniformed service members to be mindful of protocol around public disorder and be prepared for mobilization at any time while on duty.
Law enforcement sources said intel teams are closely monitoring social media for protests, including intentional acts to slow down traffic or disrupt daily life across the city. Thus far, nothing of the sort has taken place in the city.
The police department, Secret Service, court officers and FBI continue to meet to discuss security. Two senior officials said the Secret Service has yet to do a security review of the 100 Centre Street courthouse where Trump could face a judge if he is indicted. Entrances, booking areas, hallways, courtroom, surrounding streets and more would be included in that kind of advanced security review, which would only be done if and/or when a potential indictment comes down.
During the meetings between law enforcement agencies, officials have discussed various possible routes of arrival for Trump should he be flown to New York to face any charges. LaGuardia and Teterboro airports have been mentioned as possibilities, officials said, along with varying routes to and from the courthouse.
As of the latest developments, there have been no plans or requests for Trump — who has been at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and hasn't commented on the grand jury delay — to travel to the city this week, according to several sources. It doesn't appear a virtual arraignment would be likely in the event of an indictment, given what would be the historic significance of such a proceeding.
Trump is reportedly concerned about optics if he is indicted. The New York Times cited friends and associates who say the former president is ready for his perp walk, and even mused openly about whether he should smile for the assembled media. He has reportedly pondered how the public would react and is said to have described the potential spectacle as a fun experience.
Friends and associates of Trump told the Times that no one is quite sure whether his remarks are bravado or genuine resignation about what lies ahead.
What Happens Next: Could Trump Still Run? And More Questions
Bragg's office has been investigating alleged hush money paid to women, including Stormy Daniels, who alleged sexual encounters with the former president. Trump declined to testify before the grand jury. Potential charges include falsifying business records connected to the payments made during his 2016 campaign.
It's one of several intensifying probes as Trump mounts his third presidential run. He has denied any allegations of wrongdoing and accuses prosecutors of engaging in a politically motivated “witch hunt” to damage his campaign.
An indictment wouldn't stop Trump from keeping his hat in the 2024 ring. There is no prohibition against running while facing criminal charges — or even following conviction. Indeed, convicted felons have run for president before.
If Bragg does secure an indictment, legal experts say there will be a slew of thorny procedural questions about how to provide a fair trial.
"If you are going to go after a person the likes of Donald Trump you better have an unbelievably rock solid case," said Arthur Aidala, an attorney who has represented big-name clients like Rudy Giuliani, Harvey Weinstein and Meek Mill.
If Trump is charged, Aidala predicts the defense would ask for a change of venue, given the heavily Democrat block from which the jury base would be chosen. Aidala said he doesn't think a venue change would be granted.
CORRECTION: This story was meant to indicate the Manhattan District Attorney's apparent dissatisfaction with Michael Cohen's comments during a recent television appearance on MSNBC. Instead, due to an editing error, it was mistakenly stated that the DA's dissatisfaction was directed toward comments made during a grand jury appearance. NBC New York regrets the editing error.