Donald Trump and his legal team were preparing for the unprecedented spectacle of an appearance in court on Tuesday of a former US president facing criminal charges.
The indictment of Trump remained under court seal on Friday, with details of the charges awaited. He was braced at his Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, for the forthcoming trip to surrender to the authorities in New York after the surprise news on Thursday night that a grand jury had voted to charge him.
While Tacopina admitted that the news of the indictment came as a shock to Trump on Thursday, and it was understood that he learned about his fate from the press, Trump continued to attack the investigation of a hush-money scheme during the 2016 presidential election.
After the news broke that the grand jury had voted to indict Trump, Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, said almost two hours later that he had contacted Trump’s attorneys to coordinate his surrender.
Trump expects to be arrested and arraigned – called to court to answer charges – on Tuesday afternoon in lower Manhattan, and he plans to plead not guilty to all charges, Tacopina said.
The attorney told ABC News that access to the courthouse would be severely restricted while the arraignment takes place, amid concerns about potential unrest over the unprecedented arrest of a former US president. He predicted that New York authorities would not “allow this to become a circus”.
“We’ll go in there and we’ll proceed to see a judge at some point, plead not guilty, start talking about filing motions, which we will do immediately and very aggressively regarding the legal viability of this case,” Tacopino said.
It remains unclear what specifically Trump has been indicted on, but he may face dozens of charges over his role in a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an extramarital affair with Trump beginning in 2006. Trump has denied the affair, and although he has acknowledged reimbursing his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 payment to Daniels, he claims no wrongdoing in the case.
On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Trump’s indictment was said to contain multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony, according to people familiar with the matter, but the indictment itself has not been made public.
Daniels was due to give her first interview post-indictment to the British broadcaster Piers Morgan on Friday evening, but was forced to postpone due to unspecified “security issues”.
As Trump’s legal team prepared for a contentious and potentially lengthy legal battle, the former president continued to attack investigators via social media. In one post criticizing the judge assigned to his case, Trump pledged to appeal any ruling, even though the trial is far from starting.