Judge says Trump attorney has no conflict in Stormy Daniels case

September 19, 2023

New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan noted in a letter Monday to attorney Joseph Tacopina that “there is no conflict” in his defending former President Trump in a case adult film star Stormy Daniels despite Tacopina’s prior dealings with her.

Trump is already facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy related to his role in hush money payments to Daniels and another woman during the 2016 campaign season. 

A $130,000 payment to Daniels was arranged through then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges that Trump falsified records related to monthly reimbursements to Cohen.

Trump has consistently denied all wrongdoing and has attacked Bragg, a Democrat, accusing him of leading a politically motivated prosecution. He has also denied any affair with Daniels, who had been looking to sell her story during the campaign.

In a statement to ABC News, Tacopina said, “I have said from Day One there is no conflict. Now the court has said the same.”

Tacopina had been contacted about representing Daniels prior to her choosing attorney Michael Avenatti—who’s since been sentenced to 14 years in prison for embezzling millions from his clients, including Daniels.

In Monday’s letter, Judge Merchan wrote that while he found no conflict with Tacopina, he would “revisit this issue with Mr. Trump when he next appears virtually on Feb. 15, 2024,” adding that Tacopina would not participate in any examination of Daniels if she’s called as a witness.

The case is set to go to trial in March. It’s one of four ongoing prosecutions of the former President, who altogether faces a total of 91 criminal counts at both the state (New York and Georgia) and federal levels.

PHOTO: Joseph Tacopina in 2018

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