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Trump warns of 'potential death and destruction' if he's charged in hush money probe

The former president escalated his attacks on the Manhattan district attorney's investigation with an explicit reference to violence in an overnight post on Truth Social.
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Former President Donald Trump escalated his rhetoric against the Manhattan district attorney's probe into a hush money payment made during his 2016 campaign, warning in an overnight post on his Truth Social site about "potential death and destruction" if he is charged in the case.

Last weekend, Trump said leaks indicated he would be arrested in the investigation and called on his supporters to "PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!" Since then, he has used social media to attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, calling for his "removal" from the post and claiming without evidence that the probe is politically motivated.

But the early Friday post on Truth Social marks Trump's most explicit reference to violence yet, echoing his intensified rhetoric during the events that led-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

"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, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?" Trump wrote. "Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely [sic] hates the USA!"

Trump supporters and critics gather outside of a courthouse in New York
Trump supporters and critics gather outside of a courthouse in New York, on Tuesday.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen has come out as a witness against his ex-boss in the DA's investigation. Cohen claims that Trump directed him to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to buy her silence over an alleged affair with Trump, which the former president has repeatedly denied. Bragg is investigating whether Trump falsified business records in reporting $130,000 in payments reimbursing Cohen as a legal expense.

Republican lawmakers have rallied around the former president since he predicted he would be arrested, using their House majority to call on Bragg to testify before Congress. Several declined to engage on Trump's "death and destruction” post on Friday. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a major Trump ally, said he hadn't seen the post. When shown a copy by NBC News, Jordan said he can’t read well without his glasses.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., a close Trump ally, said Sunday people should not protest if Trump is indicted. “Nobody should harm one another ...We want calmness out there,” McCarthy told reporters.

In a Thursday post, Trump pushed back on suggestions that people remain calm. "OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!" he wrote.

Trump's call to action has so far received a subdued reception from supporters, with small crowds showing up to protest the DA's actions. On Friday, the FBI and NYPD were investigating a death threat sent to Bragg that was accompanied by a small amount of white powder, law-enforcement sources told NBC News.

Trump faces a separate inquiry by the Justice Department's special counsel into his actions relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. Ahead of the violence and rioting, Trump had used rhetoric to fire up his base, writing in a social media post, "Be there, will be wild!"

Five people died during and after the Jan. 6 attack and more than 100 police officers were injured. Democrats have pinned the blame on Trump, accusing him of inciting the riot to block the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., criticized Trump’s latest comments as “reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible” at a Friday news conference.

“It’s dangerous, and if he keeps it up, he’s going to get someone killed,” Jeffries said. “We’ve already seen the consequences of incitement from the former president. He is principally responsible for inciting the violent insurrection that happened on January 6th, but clearly he has not learned his lesson.”

Jeffries, the top-ranking House Democrat, took aim at “extreme MAGA Republicans in the House of Representatives,” who he said continue to back Trump and his “hateful” rhetoric.

The U.S. Capitol Police are taking security precautions to prepare for protests stemming from a potential Trump indictment.