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What to expect from former president Donald Trump's arraignment this week


Donald Trump is set to walk into a Manhattan criminal court for arraignment on Tuesday. A grand jury indicted him last week making him the first former president to face criminal charges. And special preparations are underway to receive Donald Trump. To give us an idea of what we can expect next week, we turn to Molly Crane-Newman. She reports on Manhattan federal and state courts for New York Daily News and joins us now.

Welcome to the program.


RASCOE: So I know you spend a lot of time at the Manhattan courts and have covered big trials from Ghislaine Maxwell to Harvey Weinstein to El Chapo. Like, what normally happens when high-profile people appear at court? And how is it different from a typical arraignment?

CRANE-NEWMAN: The way it typically goes down is when somebody is indicted, if they're not already in custody, they negotiate a surrender date with prosecutors. So in this case, Trump is going to surrender around 1 p.m. on Tuesday and is going to appear before a judge at about 2:15 p.m. He will, you know, have his photo taken at the DA's office. He'll have fingerprints taken. Donald Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, has said that he is not expecting he will be handcuffed on Tuesday, but in a typical case that is what would happen. Once the defendant is before the judge, you know, they hear the charges against them. They enter a plea. And at that point, you know, prosecutors might ask for bail or other restrictions. At this point, there's no indication any of them will be bail eligible. You know, the judge is not expected to find that Trump poses a risk of flight, as is the standard in New York. And his lawyers will, you know, speak with the judge, and the prosecutors will talk and set a motion schedule to come back to court as he fights this case pretrial.

RASCOE: It seems like a lot of people are probably wondering, like, will there be a mug shot? Is that something that's typical in these cases?

CRANE-NEWMAN: Yeah. So it is. So you know, just like any defendant, Trump will be required to have his mugshot taken. Officially, that will not be released. And whether, you know, this is definitely going to be leaked or it's going to be the opposite is not clear. But he will be required to have his mugshot taken when he surrenders to the courthouse and before he appears in court.

RASCOE: So when can we expect to know about the contents of Donald Trump's charges once they are unsealed? So will it be in the courtroom? The judge will read them out. Is that the first time we'll know what the actual - you know, the charges are?

CRANE-NEWMAN: Yeah, we're expecting the indictment to be unsealed at that moment when Trump appears in court and for prosecutors to go through the indictment. That is the moment where we're going to hear the charges for the first time and where Trump is going to hear the charges for the first time.

RASCOE: What will you be looking out for or listening for when the charges are read?

CRANE-NEWMAN: The big question is, is it going to center on the, you know, now-notorious hush-money payoff to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, or is it going to explore other territory? You know, Trump is facing multiple counts - at least one felony related to business fraud. The grand jury heard from Michael Cohen and several people kind of involved in that scheme. But we also know that, you know, the DA's office has been investigating Trump for four years. And, you know, in 2019 and in 2020, as the former DA, Cy Vance, wanted to get Trump's taxes, we did learn a lot in court filings about what they were looking at - how he ran his business in New York and multiple different aspects of that. The thinking is that the case is going to be centered on these hush-money payments. But that's what I'll be looking out for as they're reading them out, is how far did they veer away from that?

RASCOE: And, you know, Donald Trump has warned of, quote, "death and destruction" if he is charged with a crime. How are security officials across the city and the state of New York preparing for Tuesday?

CRANE-NEWMAN: Yeah. You know, so just even in the last two weeks, police presence down at the courthouse, you know, state and federal law enforcement and, you know, the courthouse security - we've really seen quite a heavy presence. There's barricades, you know, kind of enacted all around the courthouse. There were two bomb threats that were quickly deemed to be bogus. There was a white-powder scare in the Manhattan DA's mailroom. The Manhattan DA's office, and, you know, various websites associated with him and his campaign for DA have been inundated with hate mail and death threats. And, you know, Trump is going to be accompanied by the Secret Service at all times when he comes. And, you know, Bragg certainly, the DA who has brought this case - he's been accompanied by a pretty heavy security detail coming to work and leaving for the last couple of weeks.

RASCOE: Is there anything else that you'll be keeping a close eye on Tuesday and during this trial? I guess you want to see how it's going to play out.

CRANE-NEWMAN: Yeah. So, you know, I'm really interested to see how - you know, how Trump himself is going to be on Tuesday when he appears in court. He had called on supporters to come down and protest - you know, definitely interested to see how the courts themselves are going to handle, you know, a case of this magnitude and international media descending from all over the world to cover it and this beefed-up security presence. I'm interested to see how - you know, if that's going to happen just every time Trump comes to court or if this is what the courts are going to look like for the next, you know, 12 to 18 months.

RASCOE: That's Molly Crane-Newman, a reporter for New York Daily News.

Thank you so much for joining us.

CRANE-NEWMAN: Thank you for having me, Ayesha. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.