NEW YORK — The NYPD is stepping up security and scouring social media for threats as the city braces for protests over former President Donald Trump’s potential criminal indictment — including an expected “car caravan” of Trump supporters who plan to come in from Long Island on Tuesday, the New York Daily News has learned.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could charge Trump on felony charges as early as this week, and Mayor Eric Adams, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and other NYPD brass held a briefing for local elected officials Monday afternoon to outline security preparations underway in anticipation of the potential prosecutorial bombshell.
The Daily News obtained a recording of the private briefing.
Adams and the police officials stressed repeatedly that they have no insight into Bragg’s decision-making. They also said there are no credible threats of violence against the city as it relates to the potential Trump indictment.
Still, NYPD Intelligence and Counterterrorism Chief Thomas Galati said police are expecting protests, including from a pro-Trump group set to gather outside Trump Tower in Midtown on Tuesday.
That group is expected to march from Trump Tower to Manhattan Criminal Court, and “a possible car caravan coming in from Long Island” may join in “to escort them,” Galati said on the briefing.
“We will not tolerate any violence, we will not tolerate any property destruction. Again, there are no threats, but we are actively monitoring the threat stream for any chatter related to protests, counterprotests or any civil disobedience,” said Sewell, who added that the NYPD is deploying officers to a number of “key” locations, including Trump Tower, courthouses and municipal government buildings.
“We will have teams that are able to respond at a moment’s notice in case there are some arrests or civil disobedience,” Sewell added.
A few hours after the briefing, a small group of Trump supporters gathered at Foley Square near Manhattan Criminal Court. The protest was organized by the New York Young Republican Club, which has ties to the GOP’s far right.
The exact timing of a potential Trump indictment remains unclear, though sources connected to Bragg’s investigation said charges could drop Wednesday.
Adams indicated that he foresees people coming from outside the city as the biggest problem amid a looming Trump indictment.
“It’s very important that we allow the DA to do his job, and don’t aggravate the situation at all,” he said on the briefing. “There are a lot of out-of-towners that could aggravate the situation so we’re just going to be vigilant on our part.”
A grand jury convened by Bragg has been investigating Trump’s role in reimbursing Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, for a $130,000 hush payment he issued to porn star Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election. Cohen has testified under oath that Daniels accepted the payment on the promise that she’d keep quiet about her allegation that she and Trump had sex in 2006.
Under Bragg’s theory, which could lead to felony charges, Trump may have committed campaign finance and business record crimes by buying Daniels’ silence ahead of the election he won, sources say. If charged, Trump would be the first ex-president in American history to face a criminal indictment.
Earlier Monday, police sources told the Daily News that if Trump is indicted and surrenders he’ll avoid an infamous perp walk and will instead show up, with his lawyers, at Bragg’s downtown Manhattan offices, where his mug shot would likely be taken.
In another sign that the indictment could be imminent, NYPD personnel could be seen Monday morning setting up security barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court, where Trump’s possible arraignment would take place. Barricades were also set up outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
The barricades are just one restriction, with the Secret Service and NYPD weighing if there should be a frozen zone around the courthouse if only to get Trump inside without incident.
On the Monday afternoon briefing, NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said there are no current plans to close off large swaths of Manhattan, but that police will do so if need be.
“If we need to shut down a street, we’ll shut down a street,” he said.
The Secret Service and the NYPD are expected to use bomb-sniffing dogs inside the courthouse, as well as outside, during a potential arraignment. Sharpshooters on rooftops, a staple of presidential security, are also a possibility, sources said.
The NYPD, as it does every day, has been scouring social media for trouble signs, including whether there is reason to fear a confrontation between Trump supporters and detractors. There is also a concern about a horde of Trump supporters converging at the courthouse.
The NYPD is expected to guard Bragg’s residence, sources said.
Trump claimed over social media this past weekend that he expects to be arrested Tuesday and — in an echo of his infamous comments before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — urged his supporters to take to the streets in protest.
The grand jury in charge of making the ultimate decision on whether to charge Trump spent most of Monday hearing testimony from Bob Costello, an attorney for ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a top surrogate for the ex-president.