It would be a political earthquake: Donald Trump could become the first former President of the United States to be impeached in the coming days. To bring charges, the 76-year-old would have to appear in person before the court in Manhattan, New York, which is investigating him for alleged hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels. He would have to be fingerprinted and photographed, attend the indictment, and receive the bail decision.
Trump's lawyers have already pledged that if the ex-president is indicted, he will voluntarily fly from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to New York to plead not guilty. If he doesn't, investigating District Attorney Alvin Bragg could have him handcuffed.
However, according to observers, this scenario is highly unlikely. "The idea of cops approaching him in Florida or on the street and handcuffing him isn't going to happen and couldn't happen," Fox News pundit and former prosecutor Andy McCarthy told the US broadcaster. "The Secret Service wouldn't allow that."
In fact, the various security agencies—such as the FBI, Secret Service bodyguards, and the New York City Police Department (NYPD)—work closely together to ensure the smoothest and safest possible indictment process. "Trump is protected by the Secret Service and the NYPD has jurisdiction over New York City," McCarthy said. "They're on good terms because a lot of Secret Service protected people spend time in New York City." He assumes that the authorities would work together to find a safe room in the Manhattan courthouse. "That's where his fingerprints would be taken and he'd be photographed," McCarthy said, noting it must be a public trial.
CNN analyst and former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow assessed the procedure in a similar way. Against the background of Donald Trump's calls for protests on Truth Social and the conditions during the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, all agencies involved at the state, local and federal levels are coordinating their efforts very well, he told the broadcaster. However, the tasks and responsibilities of the Secret Service are different this time than usual. The Secret Service is working with the other authorities and is being informed, Wackrow noted. "But he's not the controlling entity, which is rare and a position we don't typically see the Secret Service in."
"The Secret Service plays an interesting role," explained Wackrow. "Usually we think of the Secret Service as a coordinating entity. They're the ones who usually put together the security plans for rallies and speeches and any kind of political event surrounding a sitting or former president. But in this case, they're not."
Instead of being in a control role, the Secret Service is "in a protective mode," the CNN analyst said. The agents viewed the matter as a move by Trump from point A to point B, where they would have to let the ex-president perform his court duties while protecting him. "They don't play the active role we normally see them in. They don't provide metal detectors at the courthouse. They don't provide the usual perimeter security."
According to Wackrow, the protection of the courthouse is the responsibility of New York State court officials. And the NYPD is responsible for maintaining civil order, which is a double task in view of Donald Trump's calls for protests. In view of the impending indictment, the ex-president called on his supporters to resist at the weekend: "Protest, take our nation back!" He wrote on the online platform Truth Social.
The New York police therefore have two obligations, according to the CNN expert. She must protect the protesters in exercising their constitutional rights while stopping any kind of violent activity that might result from these protests. The FBI is also involved. It monitors protesters' compliance with federal laws and looks for potential acts of violence by extremists.
Trump is under investigation for allegedly violating campaign finance laws with his alleged hush money payments to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Initially, it was said that charges might be brought against the 76-year-old this Tuesday. According to the latest reports from the US media, however, this should not be expected until next week at the earliest. If Trump is actually tried and found guilty, he faces up to four years in prison.
Sources: Fox News, CNN