Donald Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina called a potential indictment of the former president ‘more probable’ – after defending Trump’s claim not to have knowledge of hush payments to Stormy Daniels as ‘not a lie.’
Tacopina, considered a top criminal defense lawyer after representing a series of high-profile clients, spoke about Stormy Daniels following a signal of looming action, including grand jury testimony by former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
Trump continues to deny having a sexual encounter with Daniels, a former porn star, as she alleges happened back in 2006.
In an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, interviewer Dan Abrams pressed him on the $130,000 payment executed by Cohen.
Donald Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina said an indictment of his client in the Stormy Daniels case is becoming ‘more probable’
‘When you’re about to run for office …’ Tacopina began, prompting Abrams to interject ‘in part,’ before pointing to formal statements by Cohen in the past that it was to protect Trump from embarrassment.
At the core of the defense argument, according to Tacopina, is that to charge a felony, prosecutors would need to prove that paying off Daniels was done in conjunction with another crime. The undisclosed payment wasn’t a campaign expenditure because the former president would have paid Daniels regardless of the campaign.
He also said he hopes Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office ‘won’t stoop to the level of Mark Pomerantz, who was out there looking for a crime that fits the person.’
Tacopina was referring to a memoir by former Manhattan Special Assistant District Attorney Mark Pomerantz, who led the office’s investigation into Trump for a year beginning in February 2021.
In a letter sent to the New York City’s Department of Investigation commissioner last Friday, Trump’s attorney accused Bragg and his predecessor, Cyris Vance, Jr., of conducting a ‘politically motivated investigation.’
The prosecutors ‘weaponized’ their office, Tacopina wrote, ‘scouring every aspect of President Trump’s personal life and business affairs, going back decades, in the hopes of finding some legal basis — however far-fetched, novel or convoluted — to prosecute him.’
In an email to CBS News, Vance said, ‘it is hard to argue the previous investigations were politically motivated.’
‘You know, it’s becoming more probable, I think now, but the one thing I still hold on to is hope that justice will prevail,’ Tacopina told News Nation in an interview Tuesday night.
In a separate interview with Ari Melber on MSNBC, Tacopina defended Trump’s denial to reporters on Air Force One of having any knowledge of the payments to Daniels. He said the answer was ‘not the truth’ but also ‘not a lie.’
It was later revealed that Cohen made the payments, and Trump reimbursed him. Trump admitted to the reimbursements in 2018.
‘Here’s why that’s not a lie,’ said Tacopina. ‘Because it was a confidential settlement. So, if he acknowledged that, he would be violating the confidential settlement. So, is it the truth? Of course it’s not the truth. Was he supposed to tell the truth? He would be in violation of the agreement if he told the truth,’ he said.
There has been a flurry of action since Manhattan prosecutors began revisiting a ‘hush’ payment scheme involving porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump denies an affair, and Tacopina said Trump’s comments denying knowledge of the scheme were ‘not a lie’ due to a confidentiality agreement
Trump hired Tacopina in January to go after Pomerantz for alleged defamation, after Pomerantz in his resignation letter, which appeared in the media, said Trump was ‘guilty of numerous felony violations.’
He also represents Trump in his defense against a defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s. Trump denies the allegations.
He has previously represented a stable of celerity clients and high profile defendants, including former Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez, Michael Jackson, and rapper Meek Mill.
He represented Joran van der Sloot following the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, as well as NYPD officer Thomas Wiese in connection with the infamous Abner Louima case. He also represented accused cop-killer Lillo Brancato, who was found guilty of attempted burglary in a 2005 incident where an off-duty police officer was killed in his Brox home. He was acquitted on a murder charge.
The New York Post in 2011 quoted one prosecutor as saying ‘I can’t stand him,’ adding: ‘He’s slick, he’s got a big ego, and he’ll represent any scumbag.’
Footage from Tacopina’s appearance with Melber shows him lunging at the MSNBC host after he began reading a transcript of the ex-president denying any knowledge of Stormy Daniels’ hush money payment.
Melber posted a clip of his interview with Tacopina on Twitter.
The clip showed the moment the interviewer brought up the lie that Trump didn’t know about the $130,000 hush money payments to Stormy Daniels in the eve of the 2016 election.
Mr Trump admitted in 2018 that he authorized the payment to Ms Daniels after denying it for years.
Mr Melber showed footage of Mr Trump on a plane being asked by reporters whether he knew about the payments and he replied that he didn’t.
A clip shared by the host showed the moment the interviewer Ari Melber (left) brought up the lie that Trump didn’t know about the $130,000 hush money payments to Stormy Daniels in the eve of the 2016 election. Afterwards Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina (right), lunged forward and tried to grab Mr Melber’s transcript
Trump’s lawyer said that Trump’s comment that he didn’t know about the hush money payments wasn’t a lie, which caused Mr Melber to exclaim: ‘That’s not a lie?!’, with Mr Tacopina confirming: ‘That’s not a lie’
His lawyer said that this comment wasn’t a lie, which caused Mr Melber to exclaim: ‘That’s not a lie?!’, with Mr Tacopina confirming: ‘That’s not a lie.’
The host started reading the transcript of the footage he showed Trump’s lawyer when Mr Tacopina lunged forward and tried to grab the paper from the host.
‘Give me that,’ the lawyer said.
Mr Melber posted the interaction on Twitter and simply captioned it with: ‘Interviews.’
Timeline of Trump hush payments controversy
2006: The alleged affair between Stormy Daniels and Trump took place
2016: Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 to Daniels for her silence
2017: Trump started making monthly payments to Cohen to reimburse him for Daniels pay off
2018: Cohen admitted to the hush payments but Trump denied that he knew anything about them. Later that year, Trump admitted to paying Cohen a monthly retainer to reimburse him for the payments.
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told people she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, years before he won the 2016 presidential election.
According to Ms Daniels, she met the ex-president at a celebrity golf tournament and had sex with him there.
Mr Trump has vehemently denied the affair.
In 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen had negotiated a secret pay off of $130,000 to ensure Ms Daniels’ silence shortly before the 2016 election.
Mr Cohen has turned into a harsh critic of the former president after he stopped working for him.
In 2018, he acknowledged that he paid the hush money to Daniels, even though Mr Trump had denied knowing anything about the payment in front of reporters aboard the Air Force One.
It turned out that Mr Trump had repaid Mr Cohen and he admitted in a string of Twitter posts that his lawyer received a ‘monthly retainer’ that was used to ‘stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her (Ms Daniels) about an affair’.
While Mr Trump was the acting president of the US, he and Cohen had a public falling out, which included Mr Trump calling his former lawyer a ‘rat’ and ‘a weak person,’ while Mr Cohen called him ‘a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man’ in return.
Mr Cohen served jail time after pleading guilty in two criminal cases, one of which included using campaign finances in relation to Daniels and another woman who allegedly had an affair with Mr Trump.
The former Trump lawyer said he had been acting at his command and that the pay offs were supposed to keep the affair stories out of public knowledge before the 2016 election.