By Gram Slattery and Nathan Layne
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump warned of potential “death & destruction” if he faces criminal charges, hours after New York prosecutors probing his hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels said they would not be intimidated.
The early Friday post on Trump’s Truth Social media site was the latest in a string of verbal attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg since last Saturday when Trump wrongly predicted he would be arrested three days later.
Trump falsely claims his defeat in 2020 was the result of fraud – a claim that inspired his followers to launch a deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying the election of Democratic President Joe Biden, who bested the Republican Trump by more than 7 million votes.
“What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?” wrote Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Bragg’s office, in a letter to Republican committee chairmen in Congress on Thursday, challenged their standing to investigate his office and said Trump had “created a false expectation that he would be arrested” in his Saturday post.
The letter called the chairmen’s request for communications, documents and testimony an “unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty.”
Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress and director whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she received the money in exchange for keeping silent about a sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.
Trump has denied ever having an affair with Daniels, and has called the payment a “simple private transaction.” He has said he did not commit a crime and has called the investigation politically motivated.
The Manhattan grand jury probing Trump is not due to reconvene until next week.
In other cases, Georgia prosecutors are looking into Trump’s attempts to overturn his election defeat there, and a federal special counsel is investigating both his attempts to overturn his loss and the removal of classified documents from the White House after Trump left office.
On Saturday, Trump will hold a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, 30 years after a raid on the Branch Davidians religious sect there by federal agents resulted in 86 deaths, including four law-enforcement officers.
The event has become a symbol of government overreach for some and is a seminal moment for some right-wing extremist groups.
In an e-mail, a Trump campaign spokesperson said Waco was chosen because it is situated between several major population centers and has the infrastructure needed to host a large event.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery and Nathan Layne; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)