The Hamilton Spectator

Trump waits out grand jury as city braces for protests


Facing the possibilit­y of criminal charges, Donald Trump waited it out in Florida on Tuesday as New York braced for disruption­s that could follow an indictment. Republican contenders in the 2024 race sized up the impact a prosecutio­n could have on a campaign in which the former president is a leading contender.

Trump over the weekend claimed without evidence that he would be arrested on Tuesday, but there was no indication that prediction would come true. A Manhattan grand jury did appear to take an important step forward on Monday by hearing from a witness favourable to Trump, presumably so prosecutor­s could ensure the panel had a chance to consider any testimony supporting his version of events.

The next steps were unclear, and it was uncertain if additional witnesses might be summoned. But a city mindful of the riot by Trump loyalists at the U.S. Capitol more than two years ago took steps to protect itself from any violence that could accompany the unpreceden­ted prosecutio­n of a former president.

Monday’s testimony from Robert Costello, a lawyer with close ties to numerous key Trump aides, appeared to be a final opportunit­y for allies to steer the grand jury away from an indictment. Costello was invited by prosecutor­s to appear after saying he had informatio­n to undercut the credibilit­y of Michael Cohen, a former lawyer and fixer for Trump who later turned against him and then became a key witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s investigat­ion.

Costello had provided Cohen legal services several years ago after Cohen himself became entangled in the federal investigat­ion into the hush money payments. In a news conference after his grand jury appearance, Costello told reporters he had come forward because he did not believe Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal crimes and served time in prison.

“If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence, then so be it,” Costello said. “But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.”

Responding on MSNBC, Cohen said that Costello was never his lawyer and “he lacks any sense of veracity.”

There were no signs that Costello’s testimony had affected the course of the investigat­ion. Cohen had been available for over two hours in case prosecutor­s wanted him to rebut Costello’s testimony but he was told he was not needed, his attorney said.

The testimony came two days after Trump said he expected to face criminal charges and urged supporters to protest his possible arrest. In social media posts through the weekend, he criticized the investigat­ion, directing particular­ly hostile rhetoric toward Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.

New York officials have been monitoring online chatter of threats of varying specificit­y, but even as portable metal barricades were dropped off to safeguard streets and sidewalks, there were no immediate signs that Trump’s calls for protests were being heeded.

 ?? BRYAN WOOLSTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A police officer places a barricade in front of Trump Tower on Tuesday in New York.
BRYAN WOOLSTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A police officer places a barricade in front of Trump Tower on Tuesday in New York.

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