When it comes to hush money investigations, Trump’s lawyer is anything but quiet

The accelerating investigation into former President Trump’s involvement in a hush money scandal has a new face, one eager to hit the airwaves ahead of possible criminal charges.

Joe Tacopina was doing the rounds on television this week, enthusiastically defending the former president in the court of public opinion as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg appears to have finished his presentation to a grand jury in which he was ordered to pay $130,000 in Dollar to adult film star Stormy Daniels reviews the 2016 presidential election.

Trump himself said Saturday his arrest could take place Tuesday and lashed out at New York authorities.

“Protest, take back our nation!” Trump said in a post on Truth Social, urging supporters to protest his possible arrest.

Tacopina’s style was compared to his client’s, and the investigation was dismissed as one designed to induce “a healthy dose of disgust from the bar, the legal community, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike.”

He has defended Trump for falsely saying he wasn’t aware of the payment — “Of course it’s not the truth,” he said on MSNBC this week — and claims the exchange in no way violates campaign finance laws just like former Trump fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty.

Tacopina’s conspicuous appearance comes amid a flurry of activity on the probe.

The grand jury heard from Cohen this week while Daniels met with prosecutors in what they said was part of their “continued fight for truth and justice.”

Trump has denied having a relationship with Daniels, but a potential case would primarily focus on the former president’s role in steering the payment and whether it violated campaign finance laws just days before the 2016 election. Trump’s company described Cohen’s reimbursement of the payment as legal expenses and did not disclose it in campaign finance reports.

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Tacopina, a former Brooklyn prosecutor, has national television appearances dating back decades when he compiled a client list that included celebrities such as Michael Jackson, A-Rod, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky and Don Imus.

“The guy was just made for TV,” Phil Griffin, former president of MSNBC, told Westport Magazine so refreshingly in 2002. There are guests who fill the time with banter, and there’s Joe who says, ‘You’re wrong!’”

Tacopina did not respond to questions from The Hill.

He has also represented Trump allies in the past, including Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner who also assisted Rudy Giuliani’s team in investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election. Tacopina was Kerik’s attorney in a case in which he eventually pleaded guilty to tax fraud and other charges in 2007 and was later pardoned by Trump.

But Kerik’s relationship with Tacopina soured. The former police commissioner tapped Tim Parlatore, now an attorney representing Trump on matters before Special Counsel Jack Smith, to file a misconduct lawsuit after Tacopina spoke to federal authorities about the case. However, the lawsuit was later dismissed.

Aside from the hush money investigation, Tacopina has also represented the former president in a civil lawsuit alleging sexual battery by author E. Jean Carroll, whose allegations Trump also disputes.

Tacopina told CNN in 2018 that he briefly consulted with Daniels about the hush-moon agreement, a detail that could become an issue if prosecutors file charges against Trump. Tacopina largely declined to discuss the matter at the time, saying, “There’s attorney-client privilege that comes with even counseling.”

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Though he has represented many celebrities and politicians, he is now adding Trump ahead of the first criminal indictment against a former US president.

After Manhattan prosecutors invited Trump to testify before the grand jury hearing in the inquest, which is usually a signal that indictments are likely, Tacopina reportedly huddled with other Trump aides in Mar-a-Lago last weekend together to discuss their next steps.

On Monday morning, Tacopina began taking to the airwaves to vocally defend his client, appearing on ABC, Fox News and MSNBC.

It began with an interview on Good Morning America in which he described Trump as a victim of extortion and dismissed the notion that hush money could be implicated in campaign finance violations.

“I don’t know since when we decided to start pursuing extortion victims,” ​​Tacopina told host George Stephanopoulos. “He has vehemently denied this affair, but he had to pay money because there would be an allegation that would publicly embarrass him — regardless of the campaign.”

But Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor who served as one of the lead counsels on the Mueller investigation, said the allegation was itself problematic.

“That’s an admission he paid (which he denied) and the money wasn’t for legal fees (the cover story). Because the New York criminal case reportedly focuses on the crime of preparing false business records – his ‘defense’ is a confession,” Weissmann wrote on Twitter.

Things heated up the next day when Tacopina sat down with MSNBC host Ari Melber, who played a 2018 clip of Trump suggesting he had no knowledge of the Daniels payment, calling it a lie.

Tacopina acknowledged that was not true, but backed down, saying Trump could not violate the terms of the confidential settlement.

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He grabbed a piece of paper in Melber’s hand that appeared to contain notes on the statement and said, “Put that piece of paper down. Put down the newspaper, let me answer. We do not need that.”

During Wednesday’s prime time, Tacopina caught up with Fox’s Sean Hannity for a friendlier interview. Tacopina said the legal system has become “fully armed.”

Tacopina’s rounds — both affectively and substantively — drew other criticism as well, with late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel joking that Tacopina “seemingly was born in the ashtray of Rudy Giuliani’s Lincoln Continental.”

Cohen, who served a little over a year in prison and another year and a half under house arrest due to his association with the Daniels settlement, also made comparisons to Giuliani, saying Tacopina is “following in Rudy ‘Colludy’s’ footsteps.”

Trump proposes he be arrested Tuesday and urges supporters to “protest, take back our nation!” Trump and Carroll agree to combine defamation lawsuits into a single case

“To be honest I embarrassed him. Actually, I was embarrassed about our job,” Cohen said.

He added that journalists questioned Tacopina’s arguments in real time, making it difficult for the attorney.

“You’re not playing to a one-person party when you’re sitting across from Ari Melber at the desk. And he wouldn’t just accept the answer Joe Tacopina decided to post. He would challenge him. And unfortunately it’s not the first time. George Stephanopoulos did exactly the same thing and trained him. He makes Trump look even worse if that’s possible.”

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