With Donald Trump facing the very real possibility of a criminal indictment from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the former president’s defense attorneys are scrambling. For lawyer Joe Tacopina, that’s meant some notable on-air appearances this week.
On Monday, for example, Tacopina appeared on Fox News and argued that in Trump’s hush money scandal, the Republican was actually the “victim of extortion” — a line his client has recently embraced with enthusiasm. George Conway explained soon after that this line of defense doesn’t really work, since an extortion payment would itself have been illegal.
Andrew Weissmann, a longtime Justice Department veteran and an MSNBC legal analyst, added that this “defense” is effectively “a confession.”
A day later, Tacopina tried again, this time appearing on MSNBC’s “The Beat,” where Ari Melber had a few questions of his own. As HuffPost noted, the interview took an unexpected turn:
Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, tried to grab a piece of paper from MSNBC’s Ari Melber during an interview Tuesday. The moment came as the duo was discussing Trump’s claim not to know about hush money payments to adult actor Stormy Daniels following their alleged affair.
Just so we’re clear, the former president’s lawyer literally tried to take a piece of paper from the host’s hand during the on-air appearance. (Ari, to his credit, did not let go of the paper.)
But as unusual as that was, let’s not brush past the substantive point the host and the guest were discussing. Ari noted that Trump lied in April 2018 when he said he knew nothing about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an extramarital affair with the then-candidate. The host’s point was obviously correct: Trump did know about the payment.
After being shown a clip of the then-president lying, Tacopina initially responded by emphasizing that Trump wasn’t under oath when he lied. That’s true, though it’s not a denial.
Moments later, he tried again. “Here’s why it’s not a lie,” Tacopina said. “Because it was confidential settlement. So, if he acknowledged that, he would be violating the confidential settlement. So, is it the truth? Of course not 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. So, by him doing that, by him doing that, he was abiding by, not only his rights, but Stormy Daniels’ rights.”
Or put another way, the lawyer said Trump didn’t lie, only to concede moments later that Trump did lie. Simultaneously, Tacopina argued that lying was the right thing to do because of a confidentiality agreement.
It's quite a case, isn't it?
Michael Cohen, who helped execute the hush money scheme, appeared before the grand jury again on Monday, and he’s scheduled to testify yet again today. Watch this space.