Trump will surrender to face charges if indicted, defense lawyer says

Former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during an event at a fire station following the recent derailment of a train carrying hazardous waste, in East Palestine, Ohio, February 22, 2023.

Alan Freed | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump will surrender to face criminal charges if indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, his lawyer said Friday evening.

The lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, spoke on the heels of a report by WNBC that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are preparing security arrangements for the possibility that Trump will be indicted as early as next week.

“Will follow normal procedures if it gets to that point,” Tacopina told CNBC when asked what Trump would do if that possibility becomes reality.

Trump is under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for his company recording as legal expenses a reimbursement to his former personal attorney Michael Cohen for $130,000 he gave porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels, and has condemned the probe and other criminal investigations he faces as partisan witch hunts.

In this March 17, 2011 file photo, attorney Joseph Tacopina speaks to the media outside Superior Court in New Haven, Conn.

Jessica Hill | AP

Ever since the grand jury was empaneled in recent months, and the perceived likelihood of an indictment grew, questions have been raised about whether Trump would resist surrendering if charged, and what would happen if he did so.

Trump, who has 24-hour protection by the U.S. Secret Service, currently resides at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, which he rarely leaves.

Under Florida law, the state’s governor is responsible for making sure a person in the state is arrested and delivered to another state if that person is indicted on a felony charge.

However, Florida law also gives the governor the power to call for a further investigation before a defendant is extradited if that defendant refuses to comply with extradition.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis currently is positioning himself as a likely contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump declared himself as a candidate for the GOP nomination last fall.

Even before that Trump and his allies have chafed at DeSantis’ popularity among fellow Republicans.

Cohen, who met 20 times with investigators over several years, testified for two days earlier this week to the grand jury. Daniels spoke to prosecutors via Zoom on Wednesday.

Cohen previously pleaded guilty to a federal criminal campaign charge related to making the payment to Daniels, which he has said Trump directed him to do to avoid harming his chances of winning the White House in 2016.

That crime is the hinge of what could be the prosecution of Trump in state Criminal Court in Manhattan.

Companies are barred by New York state law from misclassifying the nature of expenses, such as, theoretically, calling the reimbursement to Cohen for the Daniels payment “legal expenses.”

Violating that law can result in a misdemeanor charge. But that can be raised to a felony if the misstatement is done to cover up another crime.

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