Trump Lawyer Previously Called Stormy Daniels Hush-Money Scheme ‘Illegal’


Ahead of Donald Trump’s potential indictment in the Stormy Daniels hush-money case, the former president’s attorney Joe Tacopina has been all over the airwaves declaring that Trump’s actions were “not a crime.”

However, back in 2018, when Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen was staring down charges for arranging the $130,000 payment to keep Daniels quiet about an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election, Tacopina claimed the arrangement was “illegal” and a possible “campaign finance issue” for the ex-president.

“For any prosecutor to say that doesn’t make sense, that a lawyer took out a home equity loan with his own money, paid somebody that he didn’t even know on behalf of a client who, by the way, had the wherewithal and the money to afford $130,000,” Tacopina said during a March 2018 appearance on CNN. “And, by the way, didn’t tell the client about the settlement agreement. It’s an illegal agreement. It’s a fraud, if that’s, in fact, the case.”

Acting as a legal expert on a CNN panel, Tacopina added that Team Trump’s claims at the time that Cohen arranged for this payment on his own “doesn’t pass the straight-face test” and that it represented a “potential campaign finance issue.” (A month later, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law, saying he did so “at the direction” of Trump.)

In a separate CNN appearance that month, Tacopina twice said the hush-payment arrangement to Daniels was “illegal.”

Beyond that, Tacopina may have an ethics issue on his hands by representing Trump in this specific case. Prior to Daniels hiring Michael Avenatti as her attorney, the adult film star approached Tacopina to represent her—establishing an attorney-client relationship at the time, even though she ultimately didn’t hire him.

The Daily Beast has reached out to Tacopina for comment and will update if he responds.

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