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Contingency Plans

Kevin McCarthy urges Trump fans not to protest if he is arrested, claims Trump agrees

Republicans spent Sunday responding to former President Donald Trump's prediction Saturday that he will be arrested in Manhattan on Tuesday and call for his supporters to "protest, take our nation back!" Trump's lawyers said the former president is basing his prediction not on any inside information but on media reports about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's investigation into 2016 hush-money payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her from discussing an alleged sexual affair with Trump.

Bragg and his office have made no public comment on the investigation, though NBC News and The Associated Press report that law enforcement agencies have been meeting in Manhattan to prepare for a possible indictment or court appearance by Trump. Bragg sent his office a memo Saturday, after Trump's social media posts, assuring his staff that "we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York" and law enforcement will investigate "any specific or credible threats against the office."

A witness recommended by Trump's lawyers is meeting with Bragg's grand jury on Monday.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) criticized the Stormy Daniels investigation, calling it politically motivated and claiming Bragg is "trying to make a misdemeanor a felony," but he said Sunday that people shouldn't take to the streets if Trump is arrested. "I don't think people should protest this, no," McCarthy told reporters in Orlando. "And I think President Trump, if you talked to him, doesn't believe that either. I think the thing that you may misinterpret when President Trump talks and someone says that they can protest, he's probably referring to my tweet: educate people about what's going on." He said he has not spoken with Trump himself.

"Nobody should harm one another," McCarthy added. "We want calmness out there."

"On right-wing social media channels over the weekend, some Trump supporters were debating the merits of violent versus nonviolent protest, loosely contemplating a trucker strike or a bank run while others warned of a deep state 'trap,'" Politico reports

Some rival GOP presidential candidates also criticized Bragg's investigation; long-shot contender Vivek Ramaswamy tried to make supporting Trump a litmus test for the 2024 primary, though declared GOP candidate Nikki Haley and presumptive candidate Gov. Ron De Santis (R-Fla.), despite pressure from Trump's team, have remained silent.

If Trump is indicted, he "will benefit from a short-term rush of support" from GOP voters and small-dollar donors, Republicans tell Politico, though "independent and Democratic voters will be reminded of the drama and scandals that seem to perpetually follow Trump."