In the early hours of Friday, former President Donald Trump ominously cautioned his social media followers on Truth Social to brace themselves for "potential death & destruction" if the Manhattan District Attorney pursues charges against him in the ongoing investigation into hush-money payments.
Despite Trump's earlier assertion that he would be arrested on Tuesday, that day came and went without incident, leaving observers uncertain about the extent of Trump's influence over the unfolding situation.
The former president directed his ire at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has assembled a grand jury to consider criminal charges regarding a 2016 hush-money payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump's 1:10 a.m. post questioned the motives behind charging a former president who received a record number of votes and is the leading candidate for the Republican Party nomination.
Trump's message read, "What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?"
He went on to accuse such a person of being a "degenerate psychopath" with a deep hatred for the United States.
This latest post builds upon and intensifies a series of messages that began almost a week ago when Trump incorrectly claimed he would be arrested in the hush-money case and urged his supporters to "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!"
There were concerns that Trump's impassioned rhetoric could incite large-scale protests or, even worse, a repeat of the January 6th unrest in New York City. Mayor Eric Adams and city officials have taken precautions to prepare for potential unrest.
These concerns were allayed when the grand jury sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday were canceled. Additionally, protesters demanding Trump's indictment outside Manhattan Criminal Court significantly outnumbered his supporters.
Despite the uncertainty, Trump persisted in posting messages on Truth Social that seemed to defy calls for peaceful protest, such as "OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!" on Thursday.
Furthermore, Trump referred to Bragg, Manhattan's first Black district attorney, as an "animal" supported by George Soros, a philanthropist frequently targeted by anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Prominent New York City civil rights leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton and NAACP New York State president Hazel Dukes, denounced Trump's attack on Bragg in a statement published by Politico, characterizing it as a "bullhorn of incendiary racist and anti-semitic bile" aimed at intimidating and sabotaging a lawful investigation.
Trump also shared an image that appeared to depict him assaulting Bragg with a baseball bat.
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