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Courthouse being cleared for security sweep before Trump’s arraignment

The upper floors of the Manhattan courthouse where Trump will soon be arraigned are being cleared of all operations in advance of a security sweep, NBC News reported, citing senior security officials.

Once the sweep is complete, members of the press and other people who have obtained the tickets required to attend the court proceedings will be let into the building, according to NBC.

Kevin Breuninger

Pro-Trump protestors have 2-to-1 edge in numbers over opponents outside court

Protestors unfurl a banner outside criminal court in New York, US, on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Donald Trump, the first former US president to be indicted, will plead not guilty when he appears in a Manhattan state court Tuesday to face criminal charges, his defense lawyer said. Photographer: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New York police officials estimate that there are about 300 pro-Trump protestors near Manhattan Supreme Court, compared to about 150 people demonstrating their displeasure with the former president, NBC reported.

Several hundred members of the media.

— Dan Mangan

DA Bragg singled out Cohen hush money angle while running for top prosecutor post

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during the National Action Network National Convention in New York City, April 7, 2022.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

While running for Manhattan district attorney in 2020, Alvin Bragg said that while there were a “staggering” number of cases around then-President Trump, he was struck by one involving a hush money payment made to a porn star by Trump’s former personal lawyer.

“You know, we haven’t talked about Michael Cohen yet and the campaign finance part,” Bragg told BS News in an interview, referring to Trump’s one-time fixer.

Former Donald Trump lawyer and loyalist Michael Cohen walks out of a Manhattan courthouse after testifying before a grand jury on March 13, 2023 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Bragg said at the time he had followed press reports about Cohen’s federal criminal case. The former Trump lawyer pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation related to paying $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels at Trump’s direction.

As DA, Bragg resurrected the criminal probe into Trump in connection with that payment, which resulted in a grand jury indicting the former president on Thursday.

— Dan Mangan

Marjorie Taylor Greene says she will go to Mar-a-Lago after arraignment to support Trump

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) talks to supporters of former US President Donald Trump outside the District Attorneys office in New York on April 4, 2023.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said in an interview that she plans to go Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s private Florida club, after he gets arraigned.

Trump is scheduled to address the nation from Mar-a-Lago this evening after his arraignment in New York on an indictment by a Manhattan grand jury.

Greene, in that same interview with Right Side Broadcasting after she abruptly left a pro-Trump rally outside the courthouse where Trump will appear, seemed to compare Trump to Jesus.

“President Trump is joining some of the most incredible people in history being arrested today. Nelson Mandela was arrested; served time in prison. Jesus. Jesus was arrested and murdered by the Roman government,” Greene said.

— Brian Schwartz

Trump’s primary opponents could sharpen their tone against him, GOP operatives predict

Trump’s Republican presidential rivals, both those who have declared candidacies and those who are expected to join the race, have largely opted to respond to Trump’s indictment by attacking the Manhattan DA’s probe.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event spotlighting his newly released book, “The Courage To Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint For America’s Revival” at the Orange County Choppers Road House & Museum on March 08, 2023 in Pinellas Park, Florida. 

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

But the former president’s primary opponents may sharpen their tone against the current GOP frontrunner as the contest heats up, Republican operatives predicted to NBC News.

That move could be a fraught one for any Republican presidential contender, as attacking Trump could risk alienating swaths of the GOP electorate. Some GOP sources told NBC that a shift in tone could be months away, possibly during a primary debate.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and former ambassador to the United Nations, holds a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S. March 13, 2023. 

Randall Hill | Reuters

Trump has appeared to gain ground in recent polls of the possible primary field. A Republican strategist told CNBC in a recent interview that the charges could unify GOP voters against DA Alvin Bragg. One operative told NBC, however, that the former president’s legal troubles could drag Trump down in a general election.

Kevin Breuninger

CPAC blasts Trump prosecutions, demands DA Bragg recuse self

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., March 4, 2023. 

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

The Conservative Political Action Conference blasted the Trump indictment as “little more than politics dressed up as prosecution and it should end.”

CPAC also said that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “at minimum … should recuse himself” given his purported connections to billionaire investor and Democratic megadonor George Soros.

A Soros-funded group boosted Bragg’s campaign, but Soros “has never met or spoken to Alvin Bragg,” a Soros advisor has told CNBC.

Matt Schlapp, the married head of CPAC, was accused in January of fondling the genital area of a male aide to former Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker after a night of drinking in Atlanta. A lawyer for Schlapp called the claim a “false allegation.”

— Dan Mangan

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith endorses Trump before his arrest

Just hours before his expected arrest, Trump netted an endorsement from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., for his 2024 presidential campaign.

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) speaks alongside President Donald Trump during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at BancorpSouth Arena on November 1, 2019 in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Brandon Dill | Getty Images

Hyde-Smith, whose state voted for Trump over President Joe Biden by more than 16 percentage points in the 2020 election, explicitly tied her endorsement to his pending surrender on reported charges of alleged document fraud.

“The prosecution of President Trump in New York is a political stunt by a prosecutor whose campaign was funded by George Soros,” read the senator’s statement shared by the pro-Trump MAGA PAC. She was referencing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who did not receive any direct funding from billionaire donor George Soros, contrary to repeated Republican claims.

“That charade is all about self-promotion by the prosecutor and has nothing to do with justice. I believe the whole affair will backfire on the prosecutor and Democrats,” Hyde-Smith’s statement said.

She also expressed support for Trump’s policies and leadership during his term in the White House, and vowed to work “to assist him in winning the Republican nomination for President in 2024.”

Kevin Breuninger

Reps. Jordan, Comer condemn possible gag order against Trump as ‘unconstitutional’

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower on April 03, 2023 in New York City. Trump is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow at a Manhattan courthouse following his indictment by a grand jury.

Gotham | Gc Images | Getty Images

Trump’s social media posts calling Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg an “animal” and Judge Juan Merchan “Trump Hating” during the indictment process might earn him a gag order from the district attorney’s office — a possibility roundly criticized by Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and James Comer of Kentucky.

The Republican lawmakers and Trump backers say they are “deeply concerned” about reports of what they called an “unconstitutional gag order” from the DA.

“To put any restrictions on the ability of President Trump to discuss his mistreatment at the hands of this politically motivated prosecutor would only further demonstrate the weaponization of the New York justice system,” Jordan and Comer said in a statement. “To even contemplate stifling the speech of the former commander in chief and current candidate for President is at odds with everything America stands for.”

— Chelsey Cox

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene makes brief visit to Trump protest

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on the day of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned court appearance after his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2023. 

Caitlin Ochs | Reuters

Georgia congresswoman and far-right provocateur Marjorie Taylor Greene briefly visited the area outside Manhattan Supreme Court, where the Republican was completely drowned out by hecklers with whistles and drums protesting against Trump.

Greene quickly left scene after reporters swarmed her and protesters verbally castigated her.

Police officers yelled at journalists to back away from Greene before she hopped into a car and drove off.

— Dan Mangan

Pro- and anti-Trump protesters clash outside courthouse

A brief altercation broke out between apparent pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters amid the frenzy outside the Manhattan courthouse.

A Trump supporter (L) argues with an Anti-Trump protester after she removed an anti-Trump banner from her outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on April 04, 2023 in New York City. 

Kena Betancur | Getty Images

A woman wearing a red MAGA hat crossed over to a group of protesters who had laid out a large black banner reading “Trump lies all the time” and were shouting “he lies.”

A Trump supporter (L) argues with an Anti-Trump protester after she removed an anti-Trump banner from her outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on April 04, 2023 in New York City. 

Kena Betancur | Getty Images

The Trump supporter tripped and fell and then was told by an anti-Trump demonstrator that she was on the wrong side.

A scuffle followed in which a demonstrator threw a punch, though it was not clear who threw it.

A Trump supporter (L) argues with an Anti-Trump protester after she removed an anti-Trump banner from her outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on April 04, 2023 in New York City. 

Kena Betancur | Getty Images

Kevin Breuninger and Contessa Brewer

Rep. George Santos leaves courthouse area before protest due to ‘chaos’

Embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., departed from the area near the Manhattan courthouse ahead of the pro-Trump protest that he was reportedly planning to attend.

Santos left around 10 a.m. ET, telling NBC News that he won’t be returning due to “media chaos” in the area. During his brief appearance, Santos said that his message for Trump was to “Stay strong. The people are with him.”

A spokeswoman for Santos did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Kevin Breuninger

Cameras will be allowed to take photos in court before proceedings begin — not during arraignment

Members of the media wait at their positions outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, after Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2023. 

Caitlin Ochs | Reuters

Judge Juan Merchan will allow five pool photographers to take photos from the courtroom just
“prior to the commencement of the arraignment,” the judge wrote in an order.

But Merchan denied a request by media outlets to have photos and video recording allowed during the proceeding itself. Cameras will be allowed in the hallway of Manhattan Supreme Court.

Trump’s lawyers opposed the request for cameras in the courtroom, saying it would contribute to a “circus-like atmosphere.”

The news outlets whose cameras will take pool images in court are the Daily Mail, The New York Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and Getty.

— Dan Mangan

Trump campaign sends ‘last’ fundraising plea before arrest

Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign continued to leverage his looming arrest in Manhattan as a fundraising tool, this time sending a solicitation with the subject line, “My last email before my arrest.”

The email from Trump’s joint fundraising committee, written in the style of a letter from the former president, lamented “the loss of justice in America.”

“Today is the day that a ruling political party ARRESTS its leading opponent for having committed NO CRIME,” read the message, which also conflated Trump’s self-perceived plight with a wrongdoing against the nation.

The bottom of the email asked supporters to “please make a contribution peacefully” to the committee.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump calls for criminal case to be moved from Manhattan to Staten Island

The Staten Island Ferry passes in front of the Statue of Liberty as seen from Governors Island on April 30, 2021 in New York City.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Trump wants his criminal case transferred to Staten Island, calling Manhattan Supreme Court a “very unfair venue.”

“This case should be moved to nearby Staten Island — would be a very fair and secure location for the trial,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social account.

Staten Island is also the only one of New York City’s five boroughs that the Republican won in his doomed 2020 re-election bid against President Joe Biden. Trump won 57% of the vote on Staten Island.

Biden had his biggest margin of victory over Trump in Manhattan. The Democrat won 86.7% of the vote.

Trump in his post also blasted Manhattan court Judge Juan Merchan, who is handling his arraignment. He contended “the highly partisan judge & his family” are “well known Trump haters.”

Trump is angry about Merchan’s handling of the criminal trial of his business the Trump Organization, which was convicted in late 2022 of a tax avoidance scheme.

— Dan Mangan

Trump might speak going in and coming out of courtroom

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his first campaign rally after announcing his candidacy for president in the 2024 election at an event in Waco, Texas, U.S., March 25, 2023. 

Leah Millis | Reuters

Trump might speak to reporters going into and coming out of his arraignment.

Trump floated that idea Monday night as he prepared for his Manhattan court appearance, CNBC has learned.

The former president has not scheduled a formal press conference.

— Dan Mangan

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos to be at protest outside Trump courthouse

U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) talks outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, on the day of Trump’s appearance to court after his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2023. 

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and George Santos, R-N.Y., are set to appear at a pro-Trump protest near the Manhattan courthouse where Trump will be arraigned on criminal charges.

Greene, whose past and current fringe views and penchant for courting controversy have not stopped her from rising to prominence in the GOP, is the top name in the protest organized by the New York Young Republican Club.

Santos, the embattled, under-investigation freshman lawmaker who has faced calls to resign from his fellow New York Republicans after admitting he lied about key details of his life on the campaign trail, is not slated to speak at the protest, NBC News reported.

The protest is set for 10:30 a.m. ET, less than four hours before Trump’s scheduled arraignment.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump rails against DA Bragg as he prepares for arrest

A person uses a smartphone after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, April 3, 2023.

Amanda Perobelli | Reuters

Trump fired off some of his harshest attacks yet against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a series of late-night posts on the eve of his historic arrest and arraignment.

The ex-president, who is reportedly facing dozens of criminal counts related to alleged document fraud stemming from Bragg’s probe of a 2016 hush money payment, asserted without evidence that the DA had leaked the “complete information” of Trump’s indictment.

Trump called on Bragg to “INDICT HIMSELF” and “resign, NOW!” He claimed there was “no Crime by Trump.” The former president has repeatedly vented rage at Bragg in recent weeks, going as far as to call him a “Soros-backed animal” — an attack that prompted accusations of bigotry.

Kevin Breuninger

Manhattan DA arrives ahead of Trump surrender

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg arrives at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, after Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2023. 

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg arrived at the courthouse where Trump is set to be arraigned later in the day on charges stemming from the DA’s hush money probe.

Bragg arrived outside the lower Manhattan building in a black SUV at about 8:06 a.m. ET. He quickly made his way through the heavy security presence by the entrance and moved out of view.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump campaign rakes in millions in post-indictment cash grab

Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign raised more than $8 million in the four days since the Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him, according to a top campaign aide.

A law enforcement officer stands guard near a poster depicting former U.S. President Donald Trump outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, after Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2023. 

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

That windfall, reportedly Trump’s best fundraising stretch since leaving the White House, rolled in as the ex-president prepared for his arrest and arraignment on charges stemming from District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s hush money probe.

On the day Trump flew to Manhattan from his home in Palm Beach, Florida, his campaign raised $1.1 million, Trump aide Jason Miller tweeted Monday night. That’s in addition to the $7 million that had already been collected since his indictment last Thursday, according to Miller.

Kevin Breuninger

Three Trump attorneys will be at his arraignment

Three defense attorneys for Trump will be present in the Manhattan courtroom for the former president’s arraignment, one of the lawyers told NBC News.

The three attorneys are Joe Tacopina, Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche, who announced his decision to join Trump’s legal team just a day earlier.

Trump Organization Attorney Susan Necheles leaves the courtroom for a lunch recess during a trial at the New York Supreme Court on October 31, 2022 in New York City. Opening statements by lawyers for the Trump Organization and Manhattan prosecutors in the companys criminal trial began today.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Tacopina confirmed to NBC that all three will be with Trump during his appearance before New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan. The arraignment is set for this afternoon.

Attorney Todd Blanche delivers a speech to the press members at New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan in New York, United States on June 27, 2019. 

Atilgan Ozdil | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Trump was accompanied by his son Eric Trump and top aides and campaign officials when he traveled to Manhattan from Florida on Monday in advance of his arrest and arraignment. Those officials include senior advisors Jason Miller and Boris Epshteyn, aide Dan Scavino and campaign spokesman Steven Cheung, according to the news outlet.

Kevin Breuninger