Donald Trump’s lawyer gave a sneak peek at the former president’s defense against possible criminal charges related to a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, saying his client’s actions were «not a crime.»
In an interview Tuesday on MSNBC, Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, said his client was following the advice of his then-attorney Michael Cohen when he signed the payments that are being examined by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Cohen «was his attorney at the time and advised him that this was the right way to do it to protect himself and his family from embarrassment. It’s as simple as that,» Tacopina said. «That’s not a crime. It’s not a crime.»
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to a federal charge related to a $130,000 payment to Daniels in the final days of the 2016 campaign. Daniels has said the money was to keep her quiet about her claim that she had slept with married Trump. in 2006, a charge Trump denies.
Cohen has said Trump ordered him to pay hush money and that it was for the «primary purpose of influencing» the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen was later returned the money he had paid to Daniels through payments that Trump’s company listed as «legal fees.»
The prosecutor is now investigating Trump for felony falsifying business records. Cohen testified before the grand jury that he is hearing evidence in the case for the second time on Wednesday.
Tacopina maintained that the records were not falsified.
“The payments were made to an attorney, not Stormy Daniels. Payments were made to Donald Trump’s attorney, which would be considered legal fees,» he said.
“Her lawyer classified them as legal services. His lawyer sent him a bill for legal services. His lawyer told him that they would be properly classified as legal services. He trusted his lawyer,” Tacopina added. «That was how Michael Cohen structured this.»
He also said that the money was not paid in an effort to influence the election, and referred to the amount paid to Daniels as «an annoying deal.»
“It’s to make a problem, a shameful problem, go away,” Tacopina said.
When asked why then-President Trump later denied knowing anything about the payment, Tacopina said his client was trying to comply with the non-disclosure agreement Daniels had signed.
«If I acknowledged that, I’d be violating the confidential agreement. So, is it the truth? Of course it’s not the truth. Was I supposed to tell the truth? I’d be violating the agreement if I told the truth.» So by doing that, by doing that, I was respecting not only her rights, but Stormy Daniels’ rights as well,” Tacopina said.
The prosecutor’s investigation appears to be drawing to a close: Last week, prosecutors invited Trump to testify before the grand jury, which is often an indicator in New York state criminal cases that an investigation is nearing completion. conclude. Trump declined the invitation.
Tacopina added: «We are surprised that it has come this far.»
“I’m still hoping they don’t do this, because I think it’s going to be a huge stain on that district attorney’s legacy,” he said, adding that the charges would help his client’s 2024 presidential bid. “If they bring this case, I think this will catapult him into the White House. I believe so, because this will show how they are putting together the justice system.»