Trump heads to NY amid tight security ahead of his surrender

Trump heads to NY amid tight security ahead of his surrender

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Former United States president Donald Trump has left Florida for New York for his expected booking and arraignment on charges stemming from hush money payments during his 2016 campaign, opening an unprecedented chapter in American history.

The nation’s largest city bolstered security and warned potential agitators it is “not a playground for your misplaced anger”.

Trump’s ground journey from his Mar-a-Lago club to his red, white and blue Boeing 757 emblazoned with “TRUMP” in gold letters was carried live on national television on Monday afternoon (early Tuesday AEST)

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It took him past supporters, who criticise the case against him as politically motivated, waving banners and cheering the former president.

The scene was quite different in New York, where Trump built a national profile in business and entertainment but became deeply unpopular as he moved into politics.

His return marks a US first, with Trump being the first former president to face criminal charges even as he is in the midst of a third campaign for the White House.

It’s causing major legal, political and cultural events to collide in unprecedented ways.

The former president planned to spend the night at Trump Tower, then surrender to authorities on Tuesday for booking and a likely afternoon arraignment.

So far, officials have not seen an influx of people coming into the city, as was the case in Washington in the days before the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

Still, authorities warned that possessing a weapon in certain areas of the city, including near courthouses, is a crime.

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Additional security was also in the works, and authorities had already closed and secured the courthouse floor where the former president is set to appear for an arraignment Tuesday afternoon.

“While there may be some rabble rousers thinking about coming to our city tomorrow, our message is clear and simple: control yourselves,” said New York mayor Eric Adams.

“New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger. We are the safest large city in America because we respect the rule of law in New York City.”

Trump Tower was open, but authorities were planning to close nearby streets as the former president came and went, which will disrupt traffic in the heart of Manhattan.

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Trump supporters, including one of his staunchest defenders in Congress, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, planned a rally in New York late on Tuesday morning, probably before Trump would have to stand before a judge as part of the arraignment.

Adams took the unusual step of calling out the congresswoman by name.

“Although we have no specific threats, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is known to spread misinformation and hate speech, she’s stated she’s coming to town,” Adams said.

“While you’re in town, be on your best behaviour.”

Trump and his aides were eagerly embracing the expected media circus.

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After initially being caught off guard by news of the indictment when it broke on Thursday evening (Friday AEST), Trump and his team are focused on using what they call a weak case against Trump to his advantage.

Demonstrators supporting Trump began gathering as the Florida sun was just rising at a West Palm Beach shopping centre on the way to the airport, hours before he was passing along the route.

Boca Raton firefighter Erik Solensten and his retired colleague, John Fischer, got an early start putting up banners.

One was nine-by-two metres, picturing police officers and firefighters saying, “Thanks for having our backs, President Trump.”

“We are fire-rescue. We are prepared and don’t like to wait for things to happen,” said Solensten, who took a vacation day to show support for Trump.

“He needs morale just like everyone else needs morale. He’s done more for this country than any 10 presidents combined.”

Trump is facing multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offence, in the indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury last week. The investigation is scrutinizing six-figure payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Both say they had sexual encounters with the married Trump years before he got into politics. Trump denies having sexual liaisons with either woman and has denied any wrongdoing involving payments, arguing that the case against him is politically motivated.

No former president has ever been indicted and, given Trump’s still active campaign for president, legal and political implications are colliding in an unprecedented ways.

Trump spent the weekend golfing and meeting advisers but his campaign says it has raised more than $US5 million ($7.4 million) since word of the indictment broke.

Top Republicans, including some of Trump’s potential rivals in next year’s GOP presidential primary, have decried the case against him. Biden and leading Democrats have largely had little to say about it.

Solensten said it is wrong that Trump is being charged with a crime stemming from an alleged tryst with a porn star long before he was in office.

He said investigators should instead be looking at Biden’s son, Hunter, and his business dealings, which committees in the Republican-controlled House have already begun examining.

“To me, those acts are treasonable,” Solensten said of the Bidens.

“But it’s a walk.”

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