Trump Campaign Texts Supporters That He ‘Could Be Locked up for Life’

Former President Donald Trump speaks before the opening of his New York criminal trial on on April 15, 2024.
Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty Images

  • Monday is the first day of Donald Trump’s criminal hush-money trial. 
  • During pretrial arguments, his campaign texted supporters saying he “could be locked up for life.”
  • Legal experts have said it’s unlikely Trump will spend any time behind bars if convicted.

As the first day of Donald Trump’s criminal hush-money trial got underway in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday, the former president’s reelection campaign blasted out a text message to supporters saying that he “could be locked up for life.”

However, legal experts have previously told Business Insider that the chances of Trump spending any time behind bars if he is convicted in the case are slim to none.

During a court lunch break Monday, Trump’s team sent out an “emergency memo” to supporters alerting them, “THIS IS NOT AMERICA! MY TRIAL JUST STARTED…”

“I’m going to be honest with you,” the message read, “I don’t know what will happen. I could be locked up for life.”

The message continued, “THEY HAVE NO CASE, but they’re still taking me to court. Right now, I need your support more than ever.”

Backers are asked in the memo to send a “message of support” to Trump.

“I’m going to try to read all of your responses before I go to bed tonight,” the text says. “This message doesn’t have to be long, but it would be really nice to hear from you. PLEASE RESPOND.”

At the end of the message, supporters were encouraged to donate money to Trump’s reelection campaign.

Trump’s first criminal trial was to kick off Monday with jury selection after a morning of final pretrial arguments.

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors accuse him of lying on documents to disguise hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress.

Prosecutors say Trump’s ex-personal attorney and former fixer, Michael Cohen, facilitated $130,000 in payments to Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election to buy her silence over a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. Trump has denied the charges.

Legal experts have told BI that first-offenders virtually never go to jail for the kind of non-violent, low-level felonies that Trump faces.

But Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg can still seek to lock Trump up if he is convicted, the experts told BI, given that each count of felony falsifying of business records allows up to a maximum of four years in prison.

Prosecutors can also ask for more likely penalties — including a hefty fine, community service, and probation — in the event that the 77-year-old former president is convicted.

Before Trump headed into the courtroom on Monday morning, he called the case against him “political persecution.”

“This is an assault on America,” he said. “Nothing like this has ever happened before, there’s never been anything like it.”

The hush-money case is the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial before the 2024 election, where Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee against President Joe Biden.

The trial is expected to last six weeks.

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