Trump attorney Joe Tacopina over the weekend struggled to defend his client in multiple TV interviews ahead of a potential indictment in Manhattan.
Tacopina, who is representing former President Donald Trump in the Manhattan district attorney probe of a 2016 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, acknowledged that the former president's attacks on prosecutors were "ill-advised" but refused to condemn his Truth Social posts.
Trump last week warned of "death and destruction" if he is indicted in the case and shared an article with an image of him holding a bat next to an image of DA Alvin Bragg's head.
"I'm not his social media consultant," Tacopina said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Trump later deleted the post with the bat photo.
"I think that was an ill-advised post that one of his social media people put up, and he quickly took down when he realized the rhetoric and photo that was attached to it," the attorney claimed.
Many critics have compared Trump's increasingly violent rhetoric around his potential indictment with his rhetoric ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot but Tacopina refused to condemn "anything regarding social media."
"Well, I'm not accepting that proposition, that his rhetoric created violence [on Jan. 6]. I think violence was on the way that day," he told anchor Chuck Todd. "I'm not going to defend or condemn anything regarding social media. That's not what I do. I'm not a Trump PR person. I'm a litigator and a lawyer."
Todd pressed Tacopina on the details of the payment to Daniels, which was wired by former Trump fixer Michael Cohen. Cohen later pleaded guilty to related charges and testified that he was reimbursed by Trump and that the Trump Organization classified the payment as a legal expense.
"You keep saying it's personal funds," Todd said. "That is not what Michael Cohen pled guilty to. This was funds where he was repaid by the Trump Organization, Trump signed the check."
"Incorrect," Tacopina insisted. "It's personal funds. It was not funds related to the campaign."
"But he used a Trump Organization check," Todd shot back.
"It's not campaign finance laws. But Chuck, that's personal, that's personal. It has nothing to do with the campaign," Tacopina said.
"So everything with the Trump Organization is Donald Trump the person?" Todd asked. "I mean, you realize the door you're opening there."
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Tacopina continued to insist that Trump Organization funds were personal funds and acknowledge that the company wrote off the payment as a legal expense.
"But what was he supposed to put in his personal ledger?" Tacopina said. "Seriously, what would he personal ledger? 'Payment for hush money to quiet an affair that I claim I never had so my family doesn't get embarrassed.' Is that what he should put in his ledger? There's no, nothing wrong with putting whatever you want in your ledger."
"How about the truth?" Todd replied.
NBC News legal analyst Katie Phang tweeted that Tacopina's remark suggests that Trump was "using the Trump Organization as his personal piggy bank."
"Commingling of funds opens a huge can of worms for Donald Trump. Yuge can," Phang warned.
"Dear lord stop talking, man," tweeted attorney Bradley Moss. "This guy is not helping his client," he added.
In another interview on MSNBC, Tacopina argued that Trump used personal funds to prevent Daniels from coming forward with her story and avoid "embarrassment."
Host Al Sharpton countered that his argument that the funds were "personal" does not matter to the case because of the "intent of the payment."
"If we were in court I would ask you to read back your statement. She came forward two weeks before the election, which meant you were reacting to the election!" Sharpton said.
During another portion of the interview, Sharpton pressed Tacopina on whether Trump should denounce death threats aimed at Bragg amid his attacks.
"What someone sent to Bragg has nothing to do with Trump," Tacopina replied.
"He posed with a bat," Sharpton shot back.
"However ill-advised that post was… he took it down," Tacopina said.
"So I stabbed you in the back but I took the knife out," Sharpton said.
"Before the knife did any damage," Tacopina replied with a smirk.
"Incredible," marveled author Tom Nichols. "And yet this lawyer keeps going on TV."
about Joe Tacopina
- Trump lawyer floats "Melania defense" in Stormy Daniels case — and claims he's the real "victim"
- Trump lawyer lunges to grab documents from MSNBC host after he's called out over "lie"
- Stormy Daniels turns over messages from Trump lawyer — and they could "disqualify" him in the case
- Ex-prosecutor warns Trump to get a new lawyer over potential "conflict of interest" in Stormy case