Donald Trump has told advisers that he wants to be handcuffed when he makes an appearance in court, if he is indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels, multiple sources close to the former president have said, The Guardian
The former president has reasoned that since he would need to go to the courthouse and surrender himself to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot anyway, the sources said, he might as well turn everything into a “spectacle”.
Trump’s increasing insistence that he wants to be handcuffed behind his back for a perp walk appears to come from various motivations, including that he wants to project defiance in the face of what he sees as an unfair prosecution and that it would galvanize his base for his 2024 presidential campaign.
But above all, people close to Trump said, he was deeply anxious that any special arrangements – like making his first court appearance by video link or skulking into the courthouse – would make him look weak or like a loser.
The recent discussions that Trump has had about his surrender with close advisers at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere opens a window on to the former president’s unique fears and anxieties as the grand jury, which next convenes on Wednesday, appears on course to return an indictment.
Trump’s legal team in the hush money case has recoiled at the idea of him going in person and recommended that Trump allow them to quietly turn himself in next week and schedule a remote appearance, even citing guidance from his Secret Service detail about potential security concerns.
But Trump has rejected that approach and told various allies over the weekend that he didn’t care if someone shot him – he would become “a martyr”. He later added that if he got shot, he would probably win the presidency in 2024, the sources said.
It remains uncertain when the Manhattan grand jury might return an indictment in the hush money case and make him the first US president, sitting or former, to face criminal charges.
People close to Trump could not be sure how serious he is about being handcuffed for a perp walk, but he may be thwarted in his supposed ambitions if the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, decides against handcuffing him and refuses to allow him to be marched past the cameras.
Trump’s advisers have also been unsure whether he actually grasps the enormity of what an indictment might mean for him legally, in part because he has appeared disconnected at times from the recent flurry of activity in New York as the investigation has wrapped up.
In recent days, Trump has generally weighed his predicament only in between lunches and dinners at Mar-a-Lago and playing his usual rounds of golf at his resort in Palm Beach, the sources said.
When he eventually gets settled on strategizing his response to the hush money case, the sources said, he has been more focused on how he can project an image of defiance against the prosecution and that he is unfazed by being slapped with criminal charges that could turn out to rise to a felony.
The case centers on $130,000 that Trump paid to Daniels through his then-lawyer Michael Cohen in the final days of the 2016 campaign. Trump later reimbursed Cohen with $35,000 checks using his personal funds, which were recorded as legal expenses to Cohen.