Former US president Donald Trump claimed on Saturday that he would be arrested on Tuesday while calling on his supporters to stage mass protests, as a New York grand jury investigates his connection with a hush-money payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels, according to US media reports.
Experts said Trump's rhetoric signals a new stage of ever fiercer partisan struggle, and is another reflection that the US judicial system has lost all its sense of justice and it serves only as a tool of US domestic politics.
Trump made the remarks on his social media site, Truth Social, on Saturday in a lengthy post.
However, his lawyer said there had been no notification from law enforcement and Trump's post was based on media reports, AP reported on Sunday.
In capital letters, the angry 76-year-old wrote that "WE JUST CAN'T ALLOW THIS ANYMORE. THEY'RE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SIT BACK & WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!"
His call for protests echoed his final days in office when he repeatedly urged his supporters to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election, leading to the deadly attacks on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, CNN reported.
The case focuses on alleged hush money paid on Trump's behalf by his lawyer Michael Cohen prior to the 2016 presidential election to buy the silence of Daniels who said she had a sexual encounter with Trump.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 as the payments amounted to illegal assistance to Trump's campaign, while federal prosecutors declined to file charges against Trump himself at the time.
Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that the case reflects that there exists no justice in the US judicial system but it is only a tool used to serve American politics.
"When Trump was president, he was able to make use of his political resources to conceal the matter. But now as is declared, he will run for the 2024 presidential election, the case is dug up again and could get him arrested. It was the same case over the years but different results have been produced to serve different political needs," Diao noted.
A spokesperson for Trump said in a statement that the former US president is "highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system," according to The New York Times.
In another potential line of defense, US house speaker Kevin McCarthy hit out at the investigation, calling it "an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA [district attorney]."
If Trump is indicted, he would be the first former US president ever to face criminal charges, according to local media reports. It would also be an extraordinary development after years of investigations into Trump's business, political and personal dealings.
Should this happen, it would be a historic moment for the US that signals a new era of ever fiercer partisan struggle, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The charge in this case is flexible, Lü said. According to law, if the charge is falsifying the business recording, then it is only a misdemeanor that is not enough for him to serve a prison sentence. However, if the charge extends to improper use of campaign funds, it could be regarded as a felony.
Diao looked into another aspect of the case, saying that while the hush-money payment is far from the most serious allegation ever to be leveled at Trump, it is the "most humiliating" and poses the most damage to his image.
By making impassioned pleas over the investigation and calling for protests, Trump is trying to minimize the losses and muddy the waters in an attempt to deflect attention from the allegation itself, experts said.
However, some observers believed that it is another "political show" by Trump who is trying to consolidate his base for the 2024 presidential election as several other previous cases did that tended to make him more popular.
Photo: Pro-Trump supporters storm the US Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election © Samuel Corum / Getty Images / VCG.
Source: The Global Times.