NEW YORK – The historic Manhattan grand jury indictment against former President Donald Trump contains about 30 counts related to document fraud, two sources familiar with the matter told sister network News 4 New York on Friday. , although a source with direct knowledge of the legal proceedings says the cases are not expected to come to light until next week.
It is left to the discretion of District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office as to when they seek to unseal the charges. If prosecutors request that before Tuesday, when sources say Trump should appear in person in Manhattan Criminal Court to be arraigned, they should file a motion to open. A judge should then review it.
At this point, it appears Bragg will follow normal procedure and wait for the indictment to be unsealed on Tuesday, the sources said. The situation is fluid, the sources say, and is subject to change.
Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for Trump, confirmed to NBC News that Bragg’s office initially wanted Trump to surrender on Friday, but Tacopoina said he and other Trump aides denied the request. Tacopoina said the Secret Service needed more time to prepare, a claim the Secret Service denies, sources tell NBC News.
Those sources said the Secret Service detail was ready to fly Trump to New York at a moment’s notice, saying its members were simply responding to orders based on dates agreed between Trump’s defense team and Bragg’s office. Bragg’s office confirmed late Thursday that his team had contacted Trump to coordinate his surrender. No arraignment date has been officially set. Therefore, the grand jury indictment remains sealed at this time.
Some experts have said they believe Trump could be charged with falsifying business records, which may be a misdemeanor or felony under New York law. To secure a felony conviction, prosecutors would need to prove that records were tampered with with intent to commit or conceal a second crime.
It’s unclear what prosecutors are alleging as a second offense.
If Trump surrenders, expect a carefully choreographed and relatively quick process and release without bail (as is common in New York), with an emphasis on safety. There is no playbook for giving a former president protection from the US Secret Service. Agents are tasked with protecting former presidents unless and until they say they don’t need them. Trump kept his contact information, so officers must be with him at all times.
Given the security concerns, experts say, Trump is unlikely to parade in handcuffs on a sidewalk or in a crowded courtroom aisle. For most defendants, that would be typical, as would fingerprints and a photo.
Bragg himself made no comment as he left his office on Thursday evening.
Trump’s lawyers told NBC News the former president is scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday, while two sources familiar with the matter said the tentative plan is for Trump to appear before Judge Juan Merchan after 2:15 p.m. uniform and prepare to deploy accordingly starting Friday.
Trump’s team denied any wrongdoing during the investigation and did so vehemently again on Thursday. Tacopina said the former president had committed no crime and promised to “vigorously fight this political charge in court.”
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