DC prepares after former President Trump calls for potential indictment protests
Mar 21, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: Apr 4, 2023, 3:12 pm
(CNN) — The US Capitol Police force “is not currently tracking any direct or credible threats to the US Capitol” ahead of a possible indictment of former President Donald Trump, according to a department intelligence assessment obtained by CNN.
But officials in Washington are preparing for demonstrations that could erupt, a district official told CNN on Monday.
A coordinating body called the Joint Information Center — which includes 12 local agencies that are put on standby — will be stood up on Tuesday, the official said, in case an indictment comes down.
So far, however, the official cautioned there is no indication or expectation that there will be violent demonstrations, nor has the Metropolitan Police Department received applications for permits to demonstrate. The official said the district is prepared and noted that the center is activated whenever there is a potential need for emergency response. It was last stood up for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
A Manhattan grand jury is investigating Trump’s alleged role in a hush money payment scheme. While an indictment could come as soon as this week, it is more likely that any potential court appearance by Trump would not occur before next week, according to a senior law enforcement official familiar with the ongoing discussions about security.
Law enforcement officials involved in the discussions have stressed the need to adequately prepare for the complex choreography of a Trump surrender and court appearance. Federal, state and local law enforcement met Monday in New York City to discuss the planning, that senior official said.
A source close to the Trump legal team told CNN they do not have any guidance on the timing of a potential indictment beyond that they have been told by the DA that nothing is expected Tuesday.
Trump on Saturday called on his supporters to protest in response to a potential arrest, echoing the calls he made for protests in Washington, DC, in response to his 2020 election loss — protests that later turned violent when scores of his supporters stormed the Capitol.
The USCP assessment said the department wasn’t seeing anything on the level of January 6 directed at the Capitol.
“Although (Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division) has identified reactionary responses that include calls for protests, mass civil disobedience, violence and targeting of law enforcement involved in any such arrest of the former president, IICD is not currently tracking any direct or credible threats to the US Capitol,” the assessment said.
“While the calls for protests and violence are worrisome and some commentators may be inclined (to) engage in potentially violent unlawful actions, IICD has not yet seen any indication of large-scale organized protests and/or violence, as IICD did leading up to January 6, 2021,” the assessment said.
A USCP spokesman declined CNN’s request for comment on the assessment, saying that “for safety reasons we don’t discuss any potential security plans.”
After the Capitol riot, USCP came under fire for security lapses despite online chatter about protests and potential violence that day.
Some social media users have interpreted Trump’s post over the weekend as a “call to action,” the Capitol Police assessment said, including discussions on tactics for their demonstrations, like forming large gatherings to block roads and access to buildings and a trucker transportation protest.
The assessment noted that while some social media users “have issued calls for demonstrations” in Washington, DC, the department “has not identified any confirmed plans for demonstrations in the city or on US Capitol grounds.”
“Any protests or possible violence are likely to be directed at the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office,” the assessment said.
Protests supportive of an indictment are also expected, according to the assessment, which cautions that the “organizing of protests supporting opposing views increased the likelihood of protestor/counter-protestor confrontation.”
Washington, DC’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency has also been tracking online chatter since Trump’s weekend call for protests, but so far hasn’t seen communications suggesting mass mobilization of protesters to the district.
“We’re not seeing the type of large-scale mobilization by known groups that commit violence for the District of Columbia,” agency director Christopher Rodriguez told CNN.
Rodriguez said that while the threat environment can change quickly, the agency is seeing online activity similar to what it saw after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in August but not near the level of chatter prior to the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
In New York City — where the grand jury investigating Trump has been meeting — all NYPD officers are expected to be in uniform and ready for deployment Tuesday, according to an internal memo that a source shared with CNN. The memo was in response to Trump’s social media posts that called on his followers to take action.
Law enforcement officials told CNN that although Tuesday is a “high alert day,” there is currently no credible threat.
The mayor’s office also said Monday that there are “no credible threats to the city at this time,” adding that the NYPD continues to monitor activity and coordinate with local, state and federal law enforcement.
Mayor Eric Adams is in “constant contact” with the NYPD commissioner about “all public safety issues,” his office said, adding he “speaks with the commissioner and others at the NYPD multiple times every day.”
CNN reported last week that security for a possible indictment against Trump was discussed as part of the NYPD daily briefing — and another more detailed security briefing was slated for Monday.
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