Donald Trump was set to fly to New York on Monday to face criminal charges in a Manhattan court, marking an ominous new chapter in American political and legal history surrounding the former US president.
Trump said he would depart at noon from his estate at Mar-a-Lago, on the Atlantic coast of Florida, and head to Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue, ahead of an appearance in a Manhattan court on Tuesday, where he is due to be arraigned.
“On Tuesday morning I will be going to , believe it or not, the Courthouse. America was not supposed to be this way!”, he wrote on his social media account.
Authorities in New York are braced for protests and possible violence ahead of Trump’s arrival. Barricades have been set up outside the courtroom to avoid any disruption to legal proceedings.
Trump was indicted by a grand jury last week in a case related to alleged hush money payments made to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, making him the first former or sitting president to face criminal charges. He is expected to be fingerprinted and photographed on Tuesday, and to plead not guilty, before returning to Florida in the evening to deliver a speech.
Trump’s allies and sympathisers in the US and around the world have rushed to his defence since the indictment was announced. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the rightwing Republican member of Congress from Georgia, is planning a separate event in New York in support of the former president.
On Monday, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán posted a Twitter message backing Trump. “Keep on fighting, Mr President, we are with you,” he wrote.
Trump’s lawyers have said they plan to move quickly to press the judge to dismiss the New York case, which is being brought by district attorney Alvin Bragg. But this is one of several active probes facing Trump, who may have to conduct his campaign for the White House in 2024 while defending himself in one or more criminal trials.
In the past few weeks, polling has shown that Trump appears to be consolidating his standing among Republican primary voters. He remains the clear frontrunner against other contenders for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who is expected to be his main opponent but has not yet launched a campaign, is still a fairly distant second in national polls, while Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who has entered the fray, is far behind.