Events at Donald Trump’s Palm Beach resort were suspended for the weekend on Friday — as the former president was seen “huddling” with his legal team to hammer out a defense after a New York grand jury voted to indict him Thursday, The Post has learned.
Trump, 76, met with his advisors at Mar-a-Lago where, a source said, they are all “shaken” by the news.
The team is preparing for his arraignment before a New York City judge next week, on unknown charges related to hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“It won’t be business as usual,” the source told The Post regarding events at Mar-a-Lago.
“They expected this but there is shock now that it’s happened,” said the source.
“It’s real now. And they are worried about a surprise.”
Lawyers, including Susan Necheles, Joe Tacopina and Chad Seigel, are “chattering about whether there is something else in the indictment that people aren’t expecting,” said the source.
“There might be something else that has been overlooked.”
Among the issues Trump’s lawyers are hammering out with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office is whether the former president’s mug shot will be shown publicly and whether the former commander-in-chief will be seen in handcuffs, the source said.
According to the source, Trump wants to use the arrest to drum up political support and donations to his 2024 presidential campaign.
He’s said to be leaning on longtime aides such as Jason Miller, who left his role in February as CEO of GETTR, a conservative social media site, to work as a senior advisor to the former president.
“Trump wants the mugshot out,” the source said.
“The funds will start flying in.”
On Thursday, following news of the indictment, a somber-looking Trump was spotted arriving for dinner at the Florida resort with his wife Melania, 52, at his side.
Photos shared by club members Thursday appeared to show guests standing to applaud the Trumps as they entered, hours after the unprecedented confirmation that he was to be the first former US president to face criminal charges.
Follow The Post’s latest coverage on Trump’s indictment
Mar-a-Lago is said to be the place he feels most comfortable. His office there, with views of palm trees, features a picture of Mount Rushmore on one wall and a gold-colored plaque commemorating the building of the southern border wall with Mexico on his imposing wooden desk.
There’s even what appears in photos to be a small brass statue of himself.
It’s also where he has been playing DJ on Thursday nights, usually from an iPad at his table while having dinner in the dining room.
On the menu: two-pound lobsters and “Mr. Trump’s Wedge Salad.”
“Of course he works the room for votes,” the source said.
“It’s always a very friendly room since Mar-a-Lago is serious Trumpland.”
As for the music, “He loves the ’80s and Broadway tunes — like ‘Phantom of the Opera’ — and Céline Dion, ‘Titanic,’” a source told Page Six. “ ‘YMCA’ is another favorite.”
Other images from Thursday showed Trump and Melania at a large, round table with a group of friends for dinner, with insiders saying he held court and greeted well-wishers.
“Melania has been with him, having dinner with him,” a Mar-a-Lago insider told The Post Friday.
“Apparently, at first, he was a little nervous and somber [about the indictment], but has become more upbeat and thinks public opinion is on his side and that this will help him win the election.”
But another source told The Post that the former first lady plans to “lay low” and out of the media spotlight.
“She will stay in Florida,” the source said. “She wants nothing to do with this. It’s embarrassing for her. And it keeps going.”
Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, a former senior White House adviser, were also said to be avoiding the issue in recent weeks.
“They want nothing to do with this,” a source told Page Six. “Ivanka lost a lot of friends and her social scenes during his presidency … They want to put it in the rearview.
Ivanka was quick to issue a statement proclaiming her love, if not support, of her beleaguered father.
“I love my father, and I love my country,” she said in an Instagram story posted to her page Friday.
“Today, I am pained for both.”
Donald Trump Jr. also took to social media to criticize the indictment against his father, noting that none of the Democratic politicians who had been involved with Jeffrey Epstein, such as former President Bill Clinton, were prosecuted for their involvement with the billionaire pedophile who committed suicide in a Manhattan lock-up in 2019.
“Not a single person that visited Epstein Island was indicted other than [Ghislaine] Maxwell who seems to be serving a 25 year sentence for sex trafficking minors to no one. But they’ll indict Trump over a campaign finance violation past the statute of limitations that even the feds who spent 7 years trying to jail my father passed on because it’s nonsense?” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Friday.
After the initial shock of Thursday’s grand jury vote, Trump’s supporters in Palm Beach rallied around the embattled former leader.
“The situation is very upbeat,” said Franklyn Demarco, a frequent visitor to Mar-a-Lago and owner of Taboo restaurant on Palm Beach’s Worth Ave.
“This indictment has energized everybody and we are rallying around him.
“Trump was annoyed at first, but as it unfolded and he saw how politically motivated this is, it is making him a martyr, and it will help him in the reelection.
“Up until now he has been saying they are out to get him and he looked like a bit of a crybaby — but this shows that he wasn’t.”
A prominent Palm Beach socialite who did not want to be identified by name called the situation a “witch hunt.”
“If this were about legal papers, it might be different, but a porn star?” the socialite told The Post Friday.
“The mood outside Mar-a-Lago among impromptu rallying supporters is defiant and ready to stand with President Trump,” said Gina Loudon, a Mar-a-Lago regular and Trump supporter, referring to demonstrators who chanted support for the president and waved flags outside the resort.
“The radicals on the left have tried and failed to stop him countless times,” she told The Post on Friday.
“Now they’ve weaponized the justice system … for political purposes — a dark day for American justice.”
Trump’s campaign didn’t waste any time in using the indictment to raise cash.
Hours after the indictment was announced, Trump’s Truth Social account featured the New York Times front page headline “Grand Jury Votes to Indict Trump in New York” above a black and white photo of the former president. “I need YOUR help To defend our movement from the never-ending witch hunts and WIN the White House in 2024,” Trump wrote to his more than five million followers on the conservative social media site.
“Is he going to use the indictment to charge the base? Absolutely,” said Ryan Girdusky, a Republican political consultant who supports Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is mulling a presidential run.
“We’re all waiting to see how the dust settles.”
In addition to raising campaign cash, Trump took to social media Friday to blast Juan Merchan, the New York City judge who is expected to preside over the arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court next week.
Writing on his Truth Social platform, Trump claimed Merchan “railroaded” former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who is serving time on Rikers Island after pleading guilty to a slew of tax fraud charges.
Trump is accused of allegedly covering up a $130,000 payment to Daniels, made by former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who allegedly sought to keep her silent about an alleged 2006 affair with Trump.
The former president has maintained that he is innocent and called Bragg’s case a “witch hunt.”
While Trump is known for loving the camera most of the time when leaving his Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach last week he uncharacteristically dodged photographers and ducked down in the back seat of his chauffeur-driven SUV.
In addition to the Manhattan DA’s case against him, Trump faces several other probes that he is reportedly more worried about than the Manhattan grand jury indictment.
For one, he is facing a federal criminal probe into his handling of classified documents which were found at Mar-a-Lago, as well as a New York state civil lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James — accusing him of lying to investors and others by overvaluing his company’s assets.
James wants to bar Trump as well as his children Eric, Donald Jr. and Ivanka from running businesses in New York state.
In January, a New York judge refused to dismiss James’ lawsuit against Trump.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, a special grand jury recommended several indictments against Trump and others to the Atlanta district attorney over alleged interference in the 2020 elections.
In December, a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol issued a 845-page report that noted that Trump and some of his supporters had devised “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”
Special counsel Jack Smith is probing Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election defeat.
Tacopina, a frequent cable news commentator and former Brooklyn prosecutor who has defended rapper Meek Mill and former Yankee baseball star Alex Rodriguez, is also defending Trump in a defamation suit from writer E. Jean Carroll over Carroll’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. (Claims Trump has dismissed.)
And even if those cases worry him more, Trump is still said to be surprised by the seriousness of the indictment.
“He’s ready to fight. You know, he’s the toughest guy I know,” Tacopina told Sean Hannity of the indictment.
“He was shocked, you know, because we really weren’t — I was shocked.”
Additional reporting by Beth Landman