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Is Trump actually getting arrested this week? Here's what we know

Former President Donald Trump, pictured here speaking to guests at Iowa's Adler Theatre last week, said on social media that he'll be arrested Tuesday as part of an investigation into hush money payments.
Scott Olson
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Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump, pictured here speaking to guests at Iowa's Adler Theatre last week, said on social media that he'll be arrested Tuesday as part of an investigation into hush money payments.

After years of facing investigation after investigation, former President Donald Trump says one of those probes will lead to his arrest.

If it comes to pass, Trump would be the first former president to be indicted — and likely the first presidential candidate to campaign while facing criminal charges.

Let's get you up to speed.

What are the accusations against Trump?

A quick refresher: Trump is currently facing at least five investigations, covering everything from his possession of classified documents to his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

But the latest indictment rumors stem from just one of those probes: the one led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Bragg's office is examining whether Trump and his company broke state laws in paying hush money to adult film star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels.

Daniels says she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, a claim that Trump has repeatedly denied. But his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, took a loan and paid $130,000 to the star in exchange for her silence during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign — at Trump's direction. Trump reimbursed the lawyer $420,000 while his company called it a retainer.

In 2018, a campaign finance investigation into that payment led Cohen to plead guilty to federal charges.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen gave testimony as part of the grand jury investigation earlier this month.
Yuki Iwamura / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen gave testimony as part of the grand jury investigation earlier this month.

Now, a grand jury is examining Trump's personal role in the arrangement and whether he violated New York law.

Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor who worked on the Manhattan probe, told NPR's Fresh Air that Trump's company falsely hid the payment as legal fees. Falsifying business records could be a violation of New York criminal law.

Trump was invited to testify before the grand jury earlier this month, which is typically the last step before a person faces criminal indictment.

But ultimately, it's up to Bragg whether to press those charges, and legal observers say he'd have a tough case to win.

Why am I hearing that Trump will be arrested this week?

The rumor that Trump will be arrested on Tuesday started with the former president himself.

Trump posted the claim on his social media platform Truth Social on Saturday morning, citing "illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan District Attorneys Office."

He added that the arrest would be "based on an old & fully debunked (by numerous other prosecutors!) fairytale."

Trump's attorney, Susan Necheles, told NPR that Trump's speculation is "based on media reports" and implied Trump's legal team hadn't received advance notice of an impending indictment.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to comment this weekend on whether it will soon be pursuing an arrest warrant for Trump.

Several media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that law enforcement officials in New York were making security preparations for an indictment, but framed the timing of such an event as "in the coming weeks."

What would a Trump arrest look like?

Pressing charges against Trump would be a huge logistics and security test for Bragg's office, a move that would involve coordination between Trump's lawyers, the Secret Service and local law enforcement.

Trump would need to be brought in for fingerprinting, and he would likely appear in a New York court for an arraignment.

All of that would be made more complicated by public attention. Since first forecasting his arrest, Trump has taken to Truth Social several more times to ask his supporters to protest.

"We just can't allow this anymore," he wrote on Saturday. "They're killing our nation as we sit back and watch."

The rhetoric struck ominous comparisons to Trump's words ahead of the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bragg is signaling that he takes the threats seriously. As first reported by Politico, the DA sent an internal memo to staff on Sunday assuring his colleagues that their safety was his first priority.

The next morning, reporters spotted New York Police placing metal barricades around the perimeter of the Manhattan criminal court.

How are Republicans reacting?

Prominent Republicans have also tried to sway Trump supporters away from protesting.

Speaking at a GOP retreat over the weekend, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he wanted everyone to stay calm.

"I don't think people should protest this, no. And I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn't believe that, either," McCarthy said according to NBC News.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a reliable soothsayer for conservative sentiment, said on Twitter that Trump's supporters don't actually need to demonstrate because they could take revenge at the 2024 ballot box.

But McCarthy, Greene and other Republicans are also giving Trump a full-throated defense, dismissing the investigation as politically motivated.

The House leader tweeted later on Saturday that he was asking House committees to "investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions."

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, heeded that call, issuing a letter to Bragg on Monday calling for all "communications, documents and testimony" relating to the Trump investigation.

Could Trump still run for president?

Republican support may prove to be a key barometer for Trump's 2024 presidential chances should the former president get arrested.

There's nothing in U.S. law that prevents a candidate found guilty of a crime from campaigning for office. And Trump has repeatedly indicated he'd continue charging ahead.

Merchandise is displayed for sale as guests wait in line to hear former President Donald Trump deliver a campaign speech in Iowa earlier this month.
Scott Olson / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Merchandise is displayed for sale as guests wait in line to hear former President Donald Trump deliver a campaign speech in Iowa earlier this month.

An arrest would undoubtedly complicate the physical business of campaigning, removing him from the trail at a time when other conservative candidates are considering a challenge.

But narratively, Trump has already turned the frenzy over a possible indictment into fodder for his overarching message of political martyrdom, creating a clear us-vs.-them line for his competitors to dare to cross.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's been widely considered a top Republican presidential contender, walked that line like a tightrope when weighing in on the investigation Monday.

"I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over an alleged affair. I can't speak to that," he said, sparking laughter in the room.

But he later added: "The real victims are ordinary Americans, ordinary New Yorkers, they get victimized every day because of the reckless political agenda of these [George] Soros [funded] DAs."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 19, 2023 at 9:00 PM PDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly said Trump's company paid $130,000 directly to Stormy Daniels. In fact, his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen paid the money to her at Trump's direction. Also, a previous version of this story incorrectly said a grand jury is examining how Cohen was reimbursed and whether the payment violated federal law. The grand jury is examining Trump's personal role in the reimbursement arrangement and whether that violated New York law.
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.