Former President Trump could be indicted in the coming days, a seismic event that will ripple through the political world.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has signaled he is prepared to bring charges against Trump over a hush-money payment to cover up an alleged affair during the 2016 election.
Trump, who over the weekend indicated he was expecting to be arrested this week, has launched a stream of attacks against Bragg and urged supporters to protest.
Here’s what to watch ahead of a possible indictment
How are charges announced
A grand jury could decide this week and as early as Wednesday whether to indict the former president on charges related to a hush-money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.
What comes next will be closely watched, but the specifics are unclear.
If Trump is indicted, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is likely to work with Trump’s team to arrange his surrender in New York City. Trump resides in Florida, and his attorney has said he would not refuse to surrender.
Trump would have to be arraigned in New York City, but he is unlikely to be held in Manhattan while the legal case against him plays out, allowing him to continue campaigning as a 2024 presidential candidate.
What does Trump do
Trump has sought to weaponize the looming charges against him for political purposes, even predicting his own arrest would happen Tuesday despite no inside information or evidence to support his claim.
The former president is likely to use the announcement of charges to hammer home his message to supporters that he is a target of a politically motivated justice system that must be torn down and rebuilt.
Trump’s campaign already sent out numerous fundraising missives to his supporters seizing on the reports of Trump’s imminent arrest, and it is expected to do the same if and when an indictment drops.
And Trump himself has turned his Truth Social feed into a sounding board for aggressive attacks against Bragg, demeaning the 49-year-old district attorney as a “racist, [George] Soros backed” prosecutor who is being manipulated by Democratic leaders.
With Trump unlikely to be held in Manhattan after the charges are filed, he is expected to continue his schedule as a 2024 presidential candidate, beginning Saturday with a rally in Waco, Texas, where his grievances will be on full display in front of a crowd of ardent supporters.
What will protests look like
Authorities in New York City have been on alert for the possibility of protests, setting up metal barricades near the Manhattan courthouse in anticipation of a charged response to Trump’s arrest.
Republicans have generally called for any protests to remain peaceful, and chatter among pro-Trump groups has yet to show any organized effort for widespread demonstrations.
But the rhetoric coming from Trump and his team has put many on edge about the prospect of violence, particularly two years after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
Trump himself urged supporters to “protest, take our nation back!” in the same Truth Social post where he predicted his own arrest would happen Tuesday.
In a separate post, Trump bemoaned what he described as the decline of the country, writing: “They’re killing our nation as we sit back & watch. We must save America! Protest, Protest, Protest!!!”
Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, warned it would be “an all-out war” if the former president is indicted, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested that charging Trump would “blow up our country.”
House GOP goes on attack
House Republicans in particular have signaled they will rally around Trump and go on offense on his behalf.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has led an effort to blast the looming charges as politically motivated, and he has threatened to review federal funding for the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Three House GOP committee chairs requested testimony from Bragg, writing to the district attorney that a decision to indict Trump “will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election.”
The strategy is reminiscent of the former president’s previous impeachment trials, when House Republicans like Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) were among his most outspoken defenders.
Bragg’s office in an internal memo Monday said it would not be intimidated by rhetoric from Trump and Republicans.
How does it shake up 2024 race?
Even with multiple investigations hanging over him, Trump has remained the front-runner for the GOP nomination in the 2024 presidential race.
The former president has a fervent base of supporters who give him a solid floor in any primary race, and some of that support will only be re-entrenched by what some view as a politically motivated prosecution.
Still, an indictment could prove damaging to Trump’s prospects long-term.
Other contenders like former Vice President Mike Pence and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have repeatedly argued the GOP has better choices than Trump moving forward, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) made a point to note Monday that he’s never had to pay hush money to cover up an affair.
One strategist who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign acknowledged the former president is still a force in the GOP, but argued that at a certain point the baggage will become too much for voters to look past.
“An indictment is not like Democrats going after him in the Oval Office,” the strategist said. “This is of his own making.”