Bringing Donald Trump to a Manhattan courthouse next week for his arraignment presents unique security challenges, but that's not a former top law enforcement official's biggest concern.
The former president plans to fly to New York on Monday before appearing in court the next day to face as-of-yet unknown charges in connection with alleged hush money payments to former adult film star Stormy Daniels, The Washington Post reports.
On Friday, Secret Service agents toured the courthouse to map out a path for Trump’s court appearance, the report said.
“This particular event is unprecedented involving the president, but we know how to handle the UN General Assemblies,” former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Friday during an appearance on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
“The NYPD knows how to handle high-profile defendants who are arraigned at 100 Center Street, so I'm confident that this will be a well-orchestrated, well-organized event with lots of security.”
But Johnson's biggest concern is the former president's fiery rhetoric.
“What goes through my mind well, frankly, is something on a national level. I'm very concerned about the former president's rhetoric right now,” Johnson said.
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“Phrases like ‘death and destruction,’ and referring to the Manhattan DA as an ‘animal.’ His rhetoric has abandoned all sorts of moderation. and we've kind of seen this before in the run up to January 6.
“No mention of peaceful demonstrations, if anyone is inclined to come out and demonstrate on his behalf, and I'm very concerned that some form of violence someplace would be inevitable as a result of this.”
Trump on Friday found a new target for his attacks: New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.
“The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME,” Trump posted on his Truth Social website.
“His name is Juan Manuel Merchan, was hand-picked by Bragg & the Prosecutors, & is the same person who ‘railroaded’ my 75-year-old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a ‘plea’ deal (Plead GUILTY, even if you are not, 90 DAYS, fight us in Court, 10 years (life!) in jail. He stron- armed Allen, which a judge is not allowed to do, & treated my companies, which didn't ‘plead,’ VICIOUSLY. APPEALING!”
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Trump’s statements typify the rhetoric that has Johnson alarmed.
“His base may be shrinking, but it only takes one or two, as you know,” Johnson said.
“And so, this type of rhetoric makes behavior acceptable that shouldn't be acceptable, and for the deranged among us, violence inevitable.”
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