Former US president Donald Trump has boarded his private plane and flew from Florida toward New York ahead of his expected booking and arraignment, as the nation’s largest city bolstered security and warned potential agitators that it is “not a playground for your misplaced anger”.
Mr Trump’s ground journey from his Mar-a-Lago club to his red, white and blue Boeing 757, emblazoned with “TRUMP” in gold letters was carried live on national television and took him past supporters waving banners and cheering the former president.
Mr Trump and his supporters criticise the case against him — stemming from hush money payments during his 2016 campaign — as politically motivated.
The scene was quite different in New York, where Mr Trump built a national profile in business and entertainment but became deeply unpopular as he moved into politics.
The former president planned to spend the night at Trump Tower, then surrender to authorities on Tuesday for booking and a likely afternoon arraignment.
So far, officials have not seen an influx of people coming into the city, as was the case in Washington in the days before the January 6 2021 insurrection.
Still, authorities warned that possessing a weapon in certain areas of the city, including near courthouses, is a crime.
“While there may be some rabble-rousers thinking about coming to our city tomorrow, our message is clear and simple: control yourselves,” said New York Mayor Eric Adams.
“New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger. We are the safest large city in America because we respect the rule of law in New York City.”
They have taken steps to close and secure the courthouse floor where the former president is set to appear for an arraignment on Tuesday afternoon.
Trump supporters, including one of his staunchest defenders in Congress, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, planned a rally in New York late on Tuesday morning, probably before Mr Trump would have to stand before a judge as part of the arraignment.
Mr Adams took the unusual step of calling out the congresswoman by name.
“Although we have no specific threats, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is known to spread misinformation and hate speech, she’s stated she’s coming to town,” Mr Adams said. “While you’re in town, be on your best behavior.”
The former president and his aides were eagerly embracing the expected media circus. After initially being caught off guard by news of the indictment when it broke on Thursday evening, Mr Trump and his team are focused on using what they call a weak case against Mr Trump to his advantage.
Boca Raton firefighter Erik Solensten and his retired colleague, John Fischer, got an early start putting up banners.
One was 30 by 6 feet, picturing police officers and firefighters saying, “Thanks for having our backs, President Trump.”
“We are fire-rescue. We are prepared and don’t like to wait for things to happen,” said Mr Solensten, who took a holiday day to show support for Mr Trump. “He needs morale just like everyone else needs morale. He’s done more for this country than any 10 presidents combined.”
Mr Trump is facing multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offence, in the indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury last week.
The investigation is scrutinising six-figure payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Both say they had sexual encounters with the married Mr Trump years before he got into politics. Mr Trump denies having sexual liaisons with either woman and has denied any wrongdoing involving payments, arguing that the case against him is politically motivated.
No former president has ever been indicted and Mr Trump’s active campaign for the presidency during next year’s election only further raises the political stakes.