NEW YORK—Former President Donald Trump waved to supporters on April 3 before entering his namesake tower in New York City, where he will spend the night before his arraignment on April 4, when charges from a grand jury indictment will be unsealed.
Trump walked into the building through a side door on 56th Street, away from the throngs of reporters and dozens of supporters waiting for him at the main entrances. Three black helicopters hovered over the building ahead of his arrival at the 58-story skyscraper, where his motorcade pulled up not long after 4 p.m. local time.
Stephanie Lu, a Chinese American, was among a small group of Trump supporters who waved U.S. flags and chanted “we love Trump” as the former president walked by with his son Eric Trump. She said she felt excited for the chance to express her support.
Trump faces charges relating to the payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is expected to bring charges alleging that Trump illegally classified the payment in violation of federal campaign finance laws. Trump has denied all wrongdoing in the matter.
Security has ramped up near the tower and the Manhattan Supreme Court ahead of the April 4 arraignment, with police erecting metal barriers and blocking access to part of the courthouse in lower Manhattan where court proceedings are set to take place.
During the course of the afternoon, drivers of several black vans passing by beeped their car horns to signal support for Trump, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
At one point, a driver of a truck shouted obscenities directed at the former president, prompting supporters to shout back “we love Trump.”
Paul Ingrassia, a member of the New York Young Republican Club who was showing his support outside Trump Tower, dismissed the charges against Trump as “bogus” and said that he hopes his presence could help show that “Donald Trump still has supporters, even in the most liberal part of the country.”
Echoing some political analysts, Ingrassia believes the indictment is only going to give Trump a boost in the 2024 presidential race, noting that Trump was able to raise $4 million within 24 hours after the indictment was reported.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has urged people who are planning to travel to the city to protest to exercise control and “be on your best behavior.”
“While there may be some rabble-rousers thinking about coming to our city tomorrow, our message is clear and simple: control yourselves,” Adams said on April 3. “New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger.”
Karen Lichtbraun, a 62-year-old preschool teacher in New York, rebuffed Adams’s warning, pointing to the rising crime rate in the city.
Lichtbraun, who is Jewish, said she was especially appreciative of Trump’s pro-Israel policy during his presidency.
Meanwhile, Robert Hoatson was among a handful of counterprotesters waiting near Trump Tower.
He was toting signs reading “Lock him up” and “Throw away the key,” a reference to the “Lock her up” chant that Trump helped popularize during the 2016 presidential campaign, which focused on Democrat rival Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information.
“We’ve got to neutralize him to the point where he can have no part in any determination of American policy ever again,” he said.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is set to host a pro-Trump rally at a park near the Manhattan courthouse on the morning of April 4; Ingrassia, who is attending, thinks it will have a large turnout.
“I’m sure many other supporters will be coming out from across not just New York state, but really across the country,” he said. “They’re going to be coming out to rally on behalf of President Trump and show that his base is strong, and we’re behind him.”