Unearthed footage from 2018 shows Trump's current lawyer saying the Stormy Daniels hush-money payment could be a 'real problem' for Trump
CNN unearthed video footage showing Trump's current lawyer saying in 2018 that the Stormy Daniels hush-money payment could be a "real problem" for Trump.
The lawyer, Joe Tacopina, also said the payment could have violated federal election laws.
He's struck a different tone since becoming Trump's lawyer, saying Trump is the victim of an extortion plot.
A defense attorney representing Donald Trump in the Manhattan district attorney's probe into a hush-money payment made to Stormy Daniels said several years ago that the payment could pose a "real problem" for Trump.
The lawyer, Joe Tacopina, made multiple appearances on CNN in 2018, when the $130,000 payment first came to light as part of a federal criminal investigation — separate from the DA's current probe — into Michael Cohen, who was then Trump's longtime fixer.
"If it leads back to the Trump campaign funding, that's a big problem," Tacopina told CNN in a March 2018 interview. "This is a Pandora's box that's gonna be opened and unfortunately is not going to have any good results for the president."
—Acyn (@Acyn) March 22, 2023
In another CNN segment in 2018, Tacopina said that the payment could be subject to scrutiny if the money to Daniels was "made on behalf of the candidate ... and it was not declared."
"That's fair game, unfortunately, if that's the case," he said.
—Acyn (@Acyn) March 21, 2023
According to a CNN report, Tacopina also said that the payment "could be looked as an in-kind contribution at the time of the election."
"This is a real problem," he told CNN.
Cohen pleaded guilty later that year to multiple felonies related to the hush-money payment, including tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations. He said he coordinated the payment at Trump's direction, but Trump has denied the alleged affair and any knowledge of the payment. He's also lambasted Cohen's testimony, calling him a "nut job with zero credibility."
Tacopina, meanwhile, has struck a markedly different tone since becoming Trump's defense attorney, painting the former president as the victim of an extortion plot and a political fishing expedition.
"We are distorting laws to try and bag President Trump ... I don't know what it is, but this prosecutor and this prosecutor's office has made an agenda," Tacopina told "ABC's Good Morning America" earlier this month.
Of the myriad criminal and civil investigations he's mired in, Trump faces the most imminent threat from the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg.
But legal experts told Insider that state prosecutors are looking at an uphill battle in the event that they bring criminal charges against the former president in connection to the Daniels hush-money payment.
According to public reporting, Bragg's office is most likely to charge Trump with a felony violation of New York's business records statute. To do so, prosecutors would need to prove that, in addition to falsifying business records with an intent to defraud, Trump also committed a secondary crime — in this case, violating federal campaign finance laws.
"Prosecutors could argue an intent to deprive voters of accurate information," Randall Eliason, a law professor at George Washington University, wrote on Twitter. But "it's not clear that would qualify as intent to defraud in NY (it clearly would not under federal law.)" If Trump is charged with falsifying business records, "expect to see this defense," Eliason added.
Tacopina did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read the original article on Business Insider