Donald Trump has claimed Manhattan’s DA has dropped a criminal probe into a hush money payment to a porn star, a week after claiming he’d be arrested within days.
The former president told a small group of reporters aboard his private jet Saturday night that prosecutors would have had no choice but to give up in the face of recent evidence.
With an open necked shirt and bottle of Diet Coke by his side, Trump cut a relaxed figure as he traveled back from the first rally of his campaign in Waco, Texas – and grew angry at any suggestion he found recent days ‘frustrating.’
‘I have no idea what’s going to happen…’ he said. ‘I think they’ve already dropped the case. From what I understand … I think it’s been dropped.
‘But I believe that if anything ever happened with the case, it’s a fake case.’
Earlier on Saturday, Trump told fans in Waco Bragg had ‘nothing’ on him. He insists a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels weeks before the October 2016 election wasn’t a campaign finance violation. Trump also denies a 2006 one night-stand with the performer.
Donald Trump talks to reporters, including DailyMail.com, on his plane as he returned from Waco, Texas, on Saturday. He said he believed the Manhattan DA was dropping the case
Trump shared his claim Alvin Bragg has dropped the case into him just a week after writing that he expected to be arrested within days
It marks a remarkable turnaround. Last Saturday he posted a message that he was expecting to be arrested on Tuesday and calling on supporters to protest.
But the day came and went. And a grand jury hearing evidence in New York did not sit on Wednesday or Thursday, sparking speculation in Trump world that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s case was foundering.
Trump spent the days following his usual routine of heading to his West Palm Beach golf course, maintaining a picture of business as usual.
On Saturday evening, as he flew home from addressing what aides said was a crowd of 25,000 supporters in Waco, Texas, he scoffed at any idea that the probe had been a distraction.
‘I’m not frustrated by anything,’ he said in response to a question. ‘I just did a speech for two hours. I’m not first frustrated to do that.
‘I just had polls that came out where I’m 40 points ahead. See, this is what I hate about fake news.’
But he faces growing legal peril from a series of criminal investigations. The most immediate is related to an alleged hush-money payoff to Daniels during his 2016 White House campaign.
He was recently invited to give evidence to a Manhattan grand jury, a sure sign that it wrapping up its work and could be about to hand down an indictment.
Trump gives a half way to four traveling members of the press as he arrives to board his private jet at West Palm Beach International Airport for the flight to Waco, Texas
Trump painted the case as politically motivated, and has used it to raise money. New York’s former governor Andrew Cuomo – an avowed Democrat – said Saturday he thinks the case against Trump is political.
On Saturday, Trump said he was convinced that testimony from lawyer Robert Costello had thrown doubt on evidence given by his former fixer Michael Cohen, who said he made the payment and the was then reimbursed by Trump.
And he said the emergence of a letter by Cohen’s lawyer, stating in 2018 that Cohen had not been reimbursed, had destroyed the case against him.
‘Two of the most respected lawyers in the country, one wrote a letter about Cohen which made him want to be a liar,’ said Trump.
‘The other one did even more so he went before the grand jury and he explained that this guy was a liar.’
He referenced the case during his 90-minute speech in Waco, along with other probes and investigations he has faced since winning the 2016 election.
His choice of location and timing triggered controversy even before his plane landed.
The rally comes amid the 30th anniversary of the Waco siege, a 51-day standoff that ended with a raid by federal agents on the Branch Davidians religious sect there that resulted in 86 deaths.
Since then, the area has become a magnet for far right groups.
The left-wing Houston Chronicle said the decision to host the event in Waco during the anniversary was much more than a dog-whistle message to far-right and conspiratorial Trump supporters.
‘The more apt metaphor is the blaring air horn of a Mack 18-wheeler barreling down I-10,’ the newspaper said in an editorial.
Trump shared this article that shows these pictures side by side: one of the ex-president with a baseball bat and another with Manhattan District Attorney looking frightened
Supporters gathered for a tailgate party on Friday in Waco ahead of Trump’s arrival
Photographers have staked out Trump’s 757 private jet at West Palm Beach International Airport for any sign that the former president is about to make the flight to New York, Instead it was readied on Saturday for the trip to Waco, Texas
Trump’s supporters have been out in force this week along the road leading from West Palm Beach to Palm Beach and the former president’s Florida home
The newspaper added that Waco had become ‘a shrine for the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers and other anti-government extremists and conspiracists.’
The Trump campaign said the location was picked because of its position between big population centers of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, and the infrastructure at the site.
But the siege metaphor is unlikely to be lost on supporters of Trump, who is expecting to be indicted by a grand jury in New York and faces three other major investigations.
Trump stoked excitement last weekend, posting a message saying that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday.
But the week came and went with the former president sticking to his regular routine of playing golf on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.