Government watchdogs on Friday said former President Donald Trump has potentially placed himself in even more legal jeopardyafter he threatened violence if he's charged in a criminal case in New York.
Shortly after midnight on Friday, Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, that potentially "catastrophic" violence would result if he is indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.
"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, and also known that potential death and destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our country?" Trump said.
He also called Manhattan Attorney General Alvin Bragg "a degenerate psychopath that truly hates the USA."
Bragg's office has presented a grand jury with evidence related to alleged hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign, years after the former president allegedly had a sexual relationship with Daniels.
Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, said in 2018 that he made a $130,000 payment to Daniels. He was reimbursed in 2017 by the Trump Organization.
The former president has made several public statements about the case against him in recent days, saying last weekend that he expected to be indicted on Tuesday and calling for a "protest" in New York, and posting an image in social media on Thursday showing Trump holding a baseball bat next to Bragg's head.
His call for "death and destruction" is his most explicit statement about potential violence, said critics including government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
"He's not being subtle, he's threatening prosecutors with violence... Trump got his supporters to attack the government once," said CREW, referring to Trump's encouragement of his supporters to attend the rally at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 that turned into a violent insurrection aimed at overturning his election loss. "He's making it clear that if he's arrested, he's going to try to do it again."
The group added that Trump's threats of violence "are admissible in court."
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) called on Republicans to clearly "condemn and oppose" Trump's calls for violence, to avoid another violent uprising in his defense.
"Donald Trump's incitement of violence is more direct, explicit, dangerous now than it was before January 6th," said Beyer. "Republican leaders cannot ignore this or wish it away."
According toThe Washington Post, the grand jury is next scheduled to meet on Monday at the earliest.