Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning populist who chafed with Trump’s policies at times in the past, downplayed the accusations against Trump and contended that voters should be the final arbiters about whether Trump deserves a second term in office.
“Right now, former President Trump is declaring that they are going to arrest him,” López Obrador said at a press conference Tuesday, per a Newsweek transcription. “If that were the case … it would be so that his name doesn’t appear on the ballot.”
Conjecture has swirled that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is poised to bring charges against Trump over an alleged hush money payment wired to porn star Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Gregory Clifford, during the tail end of the 2016 cycle.
The payment was ostensibly made in exchange for Daniels signing a nondisclosure agreement attesting that she would keep mum about an alleged affair with Trump nearly a decade prior. Prosecutors are reportedly contemplating levying charges against Trump for the alleged falsification of business documents about a reimbursement scheme for that payment. A misdemeanor charge for falsification is rumored to be coupled with a campaign finance violation charge.
Lopez Obrador alluded to past criminal allegations lodged against him and drew parallels with Trump’s predicament. Back in 2005 while serving as mayor of Mexico City, prosecutors mulled criminal charges against him for alleged contempt of court in a land dispute. At the time, he was a top potential presidential contender. Ultimately, he was not prosecuted.
“I say this because I, too, have suffered from the fabrication of a crime when they didn’t want me to run,” López Obrador added. “And this is completely anti-democratic.”
“Why not allow the people to decide?”
Speculation reached a fever pitch that Trump would be indicted this week following reports that New York law enforcement was bracing itself for possible civil unrest. New York Police Department personnel barricaded a lower Manhattan court earlier this week.
Trump amplified rumors about a potential indictment, teasing over the weekend that he “will be arrested on Tuesday.” However, Tuesday came and went without an indictment.
Should an indictment be issued, Trump will become the first former president in United States history to be indicted, but not the first to be arrested. Former President Ulysses S. Grant was arrested in 1872 for speeding. Trump is currently the frontrunner in the GOP 2024 primary.