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Defiant Trump flies to New York to ready for historic arrest of ex-president

A defiant Donald Trump flew here to prepare for the history-making arrest of a former US President on Tuesday.

He will be coming face-to-face with Acting Justice Juan Merchan, whom he had attacked asserting, “He hates me.”

Manhattan Prosecutor Alvin Bragg, who Trump has accused of carrying out a “witch hunt” against him, will also be on hand.

Trump will be the first former President to be arrested and face a trial in the nation’s 246-year history, sending the US into unchartered legal and political territory.

He is also a candidate for next year’s presidential election, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, and only two per cent behind President Joe Biden in an aggregation of polls by RealClear Politics.

Trump is facing charges relating to a payoff he allegedly made before the 2016 election through his former lawyer to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had an affair with him in 2006.

The charges, handed down by a grand jury — a panel of citizens convened to decide if there was a prima facie case — are under seal till they are presented in court on Tuesday.

Since hush money payments and extra-martial affairs are not illegal, it is likely that the charges will be about bookkeeping irregularities in how they were recorded and if they can be made out to be in violation of campaign finance laws.

Some leaks reported by the media have said that Trump will be bludgeoned with more than two dozen charges, some of them serious criminal allegations or felonies with a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Trump’s lawyers have said that he will fight the charges at the trial that will be months away.

The Constitution allows him to run for president while he is on trial or even if he is convicted and imprisoned.

The billionaire businessman flew into the city from his home in Florida on his private Boeing 757 with Trump emblazoned on it.

He was driven from the airport to his New York home at the Trump Tower in a motorcade with police escort while TV helicopters hovered overhead tracking every move.

Instead of the main entrance on Fifth Avenue, near where hundreds of journalists from around the world were penned in by police in an 80-metre-long enclosure, he was whisked from a side street into the 58-storey glass-walled Trump Tower on his way to his penthouse.

As he entered the building, he waved to the media from a distance and could not see supporters holding “Trump 2024 for President” banners or his critics with signs that said, “Lock him up”, a reprise of chants at his rallies in 2016 calling for the arrest of his then-rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The city has made extensive security precautions for Trump’s court appearance and Mayor Eric Adams issued a warning to his supporters, “When you’re in town, be on your best behaviour.”

It was directed at Republican member of the House of Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, who called for a protest outside the court, although Trump hasn’t.

Adams said, “Although we have no specific threats, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is known to spread misinformation and hate speech, she stated she’s coming to town.”

Asked about protests, President Joe Biden said, “I have faith in the New York Police Department.”

After his indictment was announced on Thursday, Trump warned of “potential death and destruction”.

Prosecutor Bragg, who was elected to the post as a Democrat in partisan elections, is scheduled to hold a news conference after Trump is produced in court.

Trump’s arrest by New York authorities will be overseen by the Secret Service, which is legally charged with protecting him as a former president.

His lawyer Joe Tacopina has said that Trump will not be handcuffed.

Media reports said that a DNA sample will not be taken from him, nor will a “mugshot”, an arrest photograph for identification, be made.

After his arrest and processing, he will be marched straight to a 15th-floor courtroom in a city court building, instead of being put in a detention cell.

Although Merchan can order him jailed or made to post bail, it is unlikely that he will.

The edifices of support by Trump’s party and opposition by Democrats cracked over the weekend.

While Republican leaders and rivals have rallied to denounce the indictment of Trump, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who announced that he will be seeking the party nomination, said over the weekend that Trump should quit the presidential race.

But Democrat Senator Joe Manchin criticised the indictment saying, “It’s just a very, very sad day for America, very sad day.”

He added, “Especially when people are, maybe, believing that the rule of law or justice is not working the way it’s supposed to and it’s biased. We can’t have that.”

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