‘It’s Kind of a Jesus Christ Thing’

Trump East Palestine Ohio train derailment - Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Trump East Palestine Ohio train derailment – Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Donald Trump insisted on turning his Tuesday arrangement into a spectacle, and he’s going to get his wish.

A law enforcement official tells Rolling Stone that the former president was offered a chance to surrender quietly and be arraigned over Zoom. Instead, Trump opted for a midday, high-profile booking at the Manhattan courthouse, the official says.

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“He wanted a perp walk, he wanted daylight hours,” says the law enforcement official, who’s involved in aspects of the security planning. “He wants to get out of the vehicle and walk up the stairs. This is a nightmare for the Secret Service, but they can only strongly suggest — not order — that Trump enter through the secure tunnels,” the official says. “Trump wants to greet the crowd. This should be a surprise to no one — especially not the details.”

The Secret Service had argued in favor of holding the proceedings outside of court business hours, at night with minimal cameras and less risk. But Trump, a source close to his legal team says, wants to create the type of scene that he believes will galvanize his supporters.

“It’s kind of a Jesus Christ thing. He is saying ‘I’m absorbing all this pain from all around from everywhere so you don’t have to,’ ” says the source. Describing the message Trump hopes to send his supporters, the source says: “ ‘If they can do this to me they can do this to you,’ and that’s a powerful message.”

Trump’s decision to appear in person comes after weeks of negotiations between his team and the DA, with input from the Secret Service, NYPD, and other agencies. (A Secret Service spokesman confirmed it had “been meeting with NYPD and state court officers for the last couple of weeks regarding safety and security concerns for the courthouse, areas around the courthouse, and the appearance of the former president.”) The end product is a day in court that will have some characteristics of a regular arrangement with an overlayer of the type of security a former president gets at all times.

Trump’s arrangement is scheduled for 2:30 am, but the law enforcement official said Trump is now expected to arrive at the courthouse around 11:30 am When it is time for him to appear, other people whose bookings are being processed will be temporarily detained. The floors above and below the courtrooms will be secured. He is expected to plead not guilty, his lawyers have said. Trump’s legal team is pushing for cameras to be kept out of the courtroom, with one lawyer warning it would create a would “create a circus-like atmosphere,” ABC News reports.

Trump will be fingerprinted and processed, and will have his mug shot taken in the booking office, a small office in the courthouse. He will not be handcuffed, according to the law enforcement officials. “Secret Service said absolutely not, no cuffs, no way.”

Outside, there will be counter-snipers on rooftops. NYPD will be outside, with riot gear, bracing for protests to turn violent. The Secret Service will have about 40 agents posted around the courthouse. Trump’s personal detail, known as “the shift” will be inches away from him at all times.

“It will be a shit show,” said the law enforcement official.

The Manhattan DA did not return requests for comment.

The source says that Trump’s mugshot will be anything but ordinary, owing to the Secret Service team surrounding him at all times. “We may have a group mugshot,” the official says. “I wish I was joking, I’m not.”

Within Trumpworld, that image is far from a cause for concern. “What a great cartoon,” scoffs the source close to Trump’s legal team. “They have to be close to him, so what? Trump’s mug shot will be the former president surrounded by 12 guys in suits with guns wearing sunglasses?”

The source noted that, after Trump predicted his imminent arrest, his campaign has said it is experiencing a sharp increase in contributions. Politico reported Friday that polls suggest the indictment has, thus far, boosted Trump’s standing among Republican primary voters — but may hurt him in the general election.

Trump’s arrest will come after a grand jury indictment driven by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The indictment is still sealed, but Bragg appears to be investigating Trump’s dealings surrounding a hush money payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the weeks ahead of the election. If Trump falsified business records in that payment — which Daniels says were made to keep her from discussing what she says was a sexual encounter with Trump — it could constitute a violation of New York law done in furtherance of a violation of campaign finance laws.

As details of Bragg’s plans leaked, Trump announced his own impending arrest on social media, saying it would incorrectly occur on March 28 and calling on his supporters to protest. Rolling Stone previously reported that, in the aftermath of that call, law enforcement agencies circulated intelligence bulletins warning of an increase in online threats and the potential for violence. Law enforcement and intelligence officials say activity tonight outside Trump Tower will offer clues about how Tuesday will go. “If the protesters get crazy tonight and clash with counter-protesters outside Trump Tower then we’d expect tomorrow to go the same way,” the law enforcement official said. “Our eyes are on Trump Tower tonight. This is why we just don’t know how it will go. We are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. Maybe there will be riots tonight, maybe people are tired of this and don’t really care. Don’t know. We’ll see.”

There are three scheduled protests. The first is Monday night outside Trump Tower, and two groups have permission to protest on Tuesday.

The law enforcement official says the NYPD were preparing for potential riots or violence, although there are no indications either are expected. In an emailed statement to Rolling Stone, NYPD writes: “The NYPD ensures thousands of events, including first amendment activities, are conducted safely in New York City each year. Officers have been placed on alert and the department remains ready to respond as needed and will ensure everyone is able to peacefully exercise their rights. There are no current credible threats to New York City.”

Bragg’s investigation is one of several Trump faces. He is the target of two Special Counsel federal probes out of Washington, one related to classified docs brought to Mar-a-Lago and the other to efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss to President Biden. A fourth investigation, out of Georgia, is also probing allegations involving efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

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