The Circus Trump Wanted Outside His Trial Hasn’t Arrived

Donald J. Trump was evidently not happy with what he saw out the window of his chauffeured S.U.V. as he rode through Lower Manhattan on Monday morning for the beginning of opening arguments in his first criminal trial.

The scene that confronted him as he approached the dingy courthouse at 100 Centre Street was underwhelming. Across the street, at Collect Pond Park, the designated site for protesters during the trial, only a handful of Trump supporters had gathered, and the number would not grow much throughout the morning.

Mr. Trump has portrayed his legal jeopardy as a threat to America itself, and he has suggested that the country would not put up with it. But the streets around the courthouse on Monday were chaos-free — well-patrolled and relatively quiet. As his motorcade made its way to the courthouse, the few Trump supporters gathered in the park were outnumbered by Trump detractors, who waved signs about his alleged liaison with a porn star.

Mr. Trump had tried to gin up something noisier. Shortly after 7 a.m., he posted on his social media website that “America Loving Protesters should be allowed to protest at the front steps of Courthouses” and he followed this lament with a call for his supporters to “GO OUT AND PEACEFULLY PROTEST. RALLY BEHIND MAGA. SAVE OUR COUNTRY!”

The narrow criminal courthouse steps in Lower Manhattan are not routinely open for protest — and particularly not when a former president of the United States is inside, guarded by a phalanx of Secret Service agents who have worked with local officials on security measures.

Asked to comment on Mr. Trump’s frustrations about the lack of protest activity, a spokeswoman, Karoline Leavitt, tried to connect it to the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, and President Biden and insisted people were being prevented from being in Lower Manhattan because of the barricades.

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