Former US President Donald Trump has warned of “possible death and destruction” if charged in a New York investigation into a hush money payment his personal attorney paid to a porn star in 2016.
Trump’s comment early on Friday comes nearly a week after he claimed he would be arrested in connection with the case and urged his supporters to protest.
“What kind of person could another person, in this case a former president of the United States, who received more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination , to charge for a crime, when it is known to all that NO crime has been committed, and also know that possible death and destruction in such a false accusation can be catastrophic for our country? Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform on Friday.
The former president, who is running for the White House again in 2024, has repeatedly reprimanded Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the district attorney overseeing the investigation.
Hours earlier, Trump posted a split-image article that featured a photo of the former president holding a baseball bat on one side and a photo of Bragg on the other.
The former president’s bellicose rhetoric and calls for protests have reignited fears of political violence, more than two years after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to seek certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election to be prevented by 2020.
“If you still support Donald Trump, you support a person who has called for chaos and violence, and continues to call for chaos and violence,” Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu wrote on Twitter Friday.
Hakeem Jeffries, minority leader in the Democratic House, also called Trump’s rhetoric “objectionable” and “disgusting.”
“It’s dangerous, and if he continues like this, he’s going to kill someone,” Jeffries told reporters.
In a letter to key Republican members of the House of Representatives on Thursday, Bragg, an elected Democrat, rejected allegations that the investigation is politically motivated and stressed that he is exercising his legal duties as a prosecutor.
The New York case revolves around a payment that Trump’s attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Daniels said she had an affair with Trump, who is married, and Cohen said he paid her on Trump’s orders.
The former president has denied the affair, saying the payment was to protect his reputation from a false accusation, insisting he had done nothing wrong.
A grand jury met behind closed doors this week to determine whether to press charges against Trump.
Several US media outlets have reported that the possible charges are related to Trump’s repayment of Cohen. Prosecutors allege he falsely labeled the payments as legal fees, which could lead to charges of falsifying business records.
Many prominent Republicans have defended Trump, echoing his accusations of political interference by Bragg. Yet most have ignored or rejected Trump’s calls for protests.
“We want peace out there,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Trump ally, said this week.
On Monday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said he was “unaware” of any specific threats related to Trump’s remarks.
“We are constantly watching this, as you would think we should, especially after what happened on January 6,” Kirby told reporters.
Trump is holding a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. The event coincides with the 30th anniversary of a bloody confrontation between federal law enforcement officials and Branch Davidians, a religious sect, that left 80 of the group and four US agents dead.
The incident turned into a major complaint for anti-government and far-right groups.
Trump’s campaign has dismissed any link between the rally and the anniversary of the violence, telling US media that Waco was chosen because of its central Texas location.
Aside from the New York case, Trump faces federal investigations into his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, as well as his possible mishandling of classified documents.
The state of Georgia is also conducting an investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In all cases, Trump has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed them as politically motivated.