Trump’s Lawyer Struggles to Defend Lie About Stormy Daniels Hush Money
Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina struggled to defend false claims by the former president, who is facing a potential indictment regarding his role in the Stormy Daniels scandal.
On MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber Tuesday, Tacopina was asked to address Trump denying a $130,000 payment made to Daniels in 2016 to buy her silence over an alleged affair.
“He lied about it,” Melber said.
Tacopina countered by claiming that Trump did not lie because the statement was not made under oath. “A lie to me is something material, under oath, in a proceeding,” Tacopina argued.
When Melber clarified that he hadn’t asked if Trump perjured himself, simply if the statements were false, Tacopina scrambled for an explanation. The lawyer stated that “it’s not a lie 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. So by him doing that he was abiding not only by his right’s but Stormy Daniels rights,” Tacopina said. “I would advise my client to do the same thing.”
Trump is facing a potential indictment regarding his role in the payment, which was made through his former attorney Michael Cohen at the former president’s direction. Cohen was reimbursed for the payment through his own legal fees. Federal investigators found that the timing of the payment, which was made to Daniels shortly before the 2016 election in an effort to stave off a potential scandal, could potentially constitute an illegal campaign contribution. In 2018, Cohen pled guilty to eight charges including campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and false statements to a bank.
When Melber questioned Tacopina regarding the potential illegality of the payment, Tacopina responded by asking what would be illegal about “a donation to his campaign by himself.”
As previously reported by Rolling Stone, some of the president’s advisors have floated the potential of a “Melania defense,” in which the president would claim that the payment was made not to protect his presidential run, but to avoid angering his wife.
Despite being implicated by Cohen, Trump skirted charges in the fallout of the hush money scandal by exerting the powers of the presidency, a strategy he hopes to repeat in 2024 to avoid the fallout of various other federal investigations against him.
For his part, the former president has declined to testify before the grand jury tasked with determining if charges are to be brought against him. “We have no plans on participating in that proceeding,” Tacopina told George Stephanopoulos on Monday, calling the investigation “prosecutorial misconduct” in a lengthy statement responding to the probe.