MSNBC host Ari Melber and Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, got into a heated exchange during a Tuesday interview while discussing whether Trump lied about a $130,000 wire payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
"I want to get the benefit of your response," Melber, who is also a former attorney, said to Tacopina. Armed with a New York Times report, Melber quoted, "'Prosecutors could argue that $130,000 became a donation to Trump's campaign under the theory the money was silencing Daniels.'"
"So, two-part question," Melber continued. "Why lie about this and why misidentify the payment if it was legal? And second, your response to that theory of the case?"
"This is Donald Trump paying with his own money," Tacopina responded. "First of all, there's a crucial distinction between separating campaign funds from personal funds, right? And on personal fund usage, here's the bright line test. And it ends this case. It ends any case regarding Stormy Daniels. If the spending or the fulfillment of a commitment or the expenditure would exist irrespective of a campaign, it's not a campaign law violation. End of story. This would've existed irrespective of the campaign."
Tacopina during the segment tried to nab some of Melber's documents, which contained Trump's denial of the payments.
"Ari, that is–if that's what you're gonna consider a lie, a lie to me is something material under oath in a proceeding," Tacopina said.
"I didn't say perjury. I said a lie," Melber retorted.
"Yeah, but that's not a lie," Tacopina said. an incredulous Melber replied,
"That's not a lie?!" an incredulous Melber pressed.
"Could you put the paper down, put the paper down, we don't need that," the lawyer told Melber.
"Here's why it's not a lie," Tacopina said. "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 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."
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"It seems like we're drawing some blood here because you're having a strong reaction," Melber said in response. "He did lie about it and in a confidential settlement you can easily say, 'No comment' or 'I'm not getting into it.'"
A Manhattan investigation into Trump's role in hush money payments to Daniels has spanned five years and is swiftly coming to a close, with many experts predicting that the ex-president's indictment is imminent.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
"I did nothing wrong," he wrote in a drawn-out Truth Social post last week.
Watch Tacopina's full interview below: