Supporters react to Trump’s call for protests over his anticipated arrest

3/20/23 by Jeff Grundy

Regardless of his status as Republican front-runner for the 2024 presidential race, former President Donald Trump faces his biggest challenge yet. On Saturday, following reports that a New York Grand Jury was investigating alleged hush-money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign, Trump announced via his own social media app, Truth Social, that he expects to be arrested and pleaded for his followers to “protest.”

In the post, Trump alleges the Manhattan District Attorney is acting “highly political” and “corrupt,” but what stood out to many was his fiery plea for organized protests in New York City. Using language eerily similar to that used before the January 6th protest, Trump called for his supporters to take action, urging them to “take our country back.” 

In a response, Manhattan District Attorney Allen Bragg said law enforcement would ensure the safety of the 1,600 people who work in his office, and that “any specific or credible threats” would be investigated. This follows Bragg inviting Trump to testify in the grand jury investigation which could lead to the first criminal case ever brought against a former U.S. president.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pushed back on Trump’s comments during the House Republicans’ retreat in Orlando, Florida, saying, “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.”

In the same press conference, McCarthy attacked Bragg for what Republicans believe is a purely political act but fell short of echoing Trump’s call to action and stressed remaining peaceful, “Nobody should harm one another … We want calmness out there.”

With key Trump loyalists like Ali Alexander, organizer of the Stop the Steal Movement, and Alex Jones, conservative media demagogue, already announcing they wouldn’t attend a New York-based protest, the question remains if Trump and his outreach is even capable of recreating a mass-scale protest and what is to occur if charges are filed against the former president.