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"Significant increase" in threats online ahead of possible Trump indictment

Officials brace for possible Trump indictment
New York officials brace as possible Trump indictment looms 03:34

Intelligence sources told CBS News that there's been a "significant increase" in threats and violent rhetoric online from domestic violent extremists as former President Donald Trump claimed he will be indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.

But the sources said they have not identified any credible or direct threats to a person or property and they are continuing to monitor for credible specific threats. 

Domestic violent extremists in online postings have warned that prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office would cross a red line if Trump is indicted and it would be met with more violence than the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the sources said. There have also been postings calling for civil war. 

Sources said the threats are mostly aimed at law enforcement, judges and government officials in New York and elsewhere that domestic violent extremists perceive as participants in what they see as a political persecution of Trump. 

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NYPD drop off metal barricades in front of Manhattan Criminal Court on March 20, 2023 in New York City.  Michael M Santiago/Getty Images / Getty Images

A law enforcement source said they are seeing chatter online, with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg being mentioned in a lot of it, but not much mobilization toward violence or protests at this point. But law enforcement sources said the situation could change quickly. 

The Manhattan district attorney has been investigating alleged campaign finance violations around "hush money" paid by Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who has served a federal prison sentence related to the payout, to adult film star Stormy Daniels during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, including having an affair with Daniels. 

Trump posted on social media over the weekend that he expected to be arrested, which would be the result if the grand jury decides to indict him, as soon as Tuesday. The Manhattan district attorney has not commented. 

The New York Police Department and other federal, state and local agencies are prepping security plans in and around the Manhattan criminal courthouse where Trump is likely to appear if he is charged. 

Law enforcement sources said high-level law enforcement officials are meeting Monday to further coordinate security plans in preparation for a possible Trump indictment. 

New York court officers have jurisdiction inside the Manhattan courthouse, where Trump is expected to appear if he is indicted by the grand jury. The court officers also have jurisdiction over the outside perimeter of the courthouse on Centre Street in downtown Manhattan. 

The NYPD, Secret Service — whose duty it is to protect Trump — as well as the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces are all part of the contingency planning, law enforcement sources said. 

One of the possibilities officials are planning for is possible caravans of protesters who may try to disrupt traffic in Manhattan by closing bridges, tunnels or blocking streets. 

Bragg addressed security concerns of his staff in an email to them on Saturday, saying "your safety is our top priority." 

"We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York," Bragg wrote. "Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place so all 1,600 of us have a secure work environment."

In Washington, D.C., U.S. Capitol Police is expected to have extra staffing Tuesday and Wednesday, a source familiar told CBS News.

A senior congressional source said Capitol Police plan to make an emergency declaration Tuesday ahead of any possible indictment. The declaration allows for mutual aid assistance from other departments, and has been used ahead of other recent protests. The source said there is no specific intelligence they are tracking, but the department is making the declaration proactively. 

U.S. Capitol Police declined to comment. 

The Metropolitan Police Department said it's not aware of any potential protests related to Trump in the capital. 

"MPD will continue to monitor and will plan accordingly with our federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of DC residents and visitors," MPD said in a statement. "MPD encourages the public to remain vigilant, if you see something, say something." 

A grand jury in New York has been hearing the case against Trump and could possibly vote to indict him as early as this week. 

Michael Kaplan, Nikole Killion and Robert Legare contributed reporting. 

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