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Joe Tacopina: Trump's Newest Bad Lawyer
It's your very legally amateur Sunday show rundown!
It's either because he's a terrible client or never pays his bills or no one wants to be on the losing side , but Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to pick out the worst attorneys to ever pass the bar. His latest legal draft pick: Joseph Tacopina, who appeared on this Sunday's "Meet The Press" with Chuck Todd.
Similar to an infamous appearance by Rudy Giuliani , Chuck Todd's oft-suppressed journalistic instincts awakened when given such an incompetent target. The trouble for Tacopina began when Todd asked why Trump got the media and the right-wing into a lather about his impending arrest last week. Tacopina, because he couldn't just say his client is a bullshit artist who is willing to incite dumbasses to protect his own hide, tried to blame others.
TACOPINA: No, he didn't make it up, he was reacting towards a lot of leaks coming out of the district attorney's office. There had been a leak, Chuck, that Monday, the day before that Tuesday, there was a law enforcement meeting, including Secret Service and NYPD, that was going to go through the logistics of the arraignment. [...] So he just, I think he just assumed based on those leaks that that's what was going to happen.
As Lemony Snicket once wrote, "Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble." Neither Tacopina nor his client have ever learned this lesson, which is why the rest of Tacopina's answers to Todd's questions came off as a series of unfortunate events for his credibility. When Todd read some of Trump's public statements on social media, specifically targeting Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Tacopina attempted to change the subject.
TACOPINA: So Chuck, as his lawyer, I want to dissect this case, because it's a case that shouldn't be brought and wouldn't be brought if it were anyone other than Donald Trump, let's be clear about that. Does anyone actually think [...] that anyone else would be prosecuted for making a civil settlement in a hush money case with personal funds? Of course not.
Literally that was what Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was prosecuted for and served federal prison time for. The crime, mind you, that was at the direction of and reimbursed by Donald Trump through his businesses and he's currently being investigated for.
Todd, again, pressed Tacopina about Trump's attacks on Bragg through social media and Tacopina deflected poorly.
TACOPINA: [...] Again, I'm not his social media consultant. I don’t -- 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 in the photo that was attached to it. But that being said --
TODD: You're only referring to the baseball bat.
TACOPINA: ... I'm not here to defend or support —
TODD: He didn't take down the other rhetoric. [...]
Tacopina then reverted back to his only defense of Trump, mainly that this was "personal funds" and "would have been made payment irrespective of the candidacy or campaign," which he views as bulletproof for his client. But when Todd pulled his best Inigo Montoya impression about this "personal funds" argument, Tacopina made a colossal legal mistake that even Todd couldn't ignore.
TODD: [...] So you call it personal funds. It is, in a court of law, it's been proven —
TACOPINA: It is personal funds.
TODD: — that it was Trump Organization funds.
TACOPINA: It's personal funds. It was not funds related to the campaign. That's the distinction —
TODD: But he used a Trump Organization check.
TACOPINA: It's not campaign finance laws. But Chuck, that's personal, that’s personal. It has nothing to do with the campaign —
TODD: So everything with the Trump Organization is Donald Trump the person?
TACOPINA: Let's focus this —
TODD: I mean, you realize the door you're opening there.
I don't think Tacopina realized what he did there, Chuck, as his continued answer dug the hole deeper.
TACOPINA: [...] These were personal funds. By all accounts, these were personal funds, not campaign funds. It's personal or campaign – whether Trump Organization, Donald Trump the person, you know, Mar-A-Lago Corporation, whatever it is – they're personal and not campaign funds. And that's the key distinction here. If they were campaign funds, we'd be having a different discussion. [...]
But, as Todd then pointed out, Tacopina's client might not be facing campaign finance charges.
Tacopina basically admitted what everyone knows: The Trump family uses his organizations and corporations as their own personal piggy banks, much like they did with the Trump "charities."
This makes DA Bragg's case much easier ... not that he needs help since he's done this type of case many times before despite what Trump's surrogates say.
TODD: But again, what this investigation may end up being is about the, essentially the falsifying business records. Which by the way, this prosecutor has brought over 60 – this one and the previous one – has brought over 60 times over the last four years. This is not an unusual crime to charge somebody with [...]
When Todd brought up falsifying business records and ledgers to say the payments were "legal fees," Tacopina outlined how somehow that was ok in what will probably be what he's remembered for after all this.
TACOPINA: [...] 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 [...] You're being petty. [...]
Todd ended the segment these clips of a very familiar lawyer saying how this was crime when it was first reported in 2018.
We bet Tacopina wishes his reality show dreams hadn't flamed out 5 years ago.
Have a week.
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