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Trump lawyer puts forward Stormy Daniels’ hush money defense: ‘It’s not a crime’

Donald Trump’s attorney previewed the former president’s defense against possible criminal charges related to secretly paying adult film star Stormy Daniels, saying his client’s actions were “not a crime.”

In an interview Tuesday on MSNBC, Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said his client was following the advice of his then-lawyer Michael Cohen when he signed off on the payments being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Cohen “was his attorney at the time and he advised him that this was the proper way to do it to save himself and his family the embarrassment. It’s as simple as that,” Tacopina said. “It’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 closing days of the 2016 campaign. Daniels has said the money was to keep her quiet about her claim that she slept with the married Trump in 2006, an allegation Trump denies.

Cohen has said that Trump secretly ordered the money to be given to him and that it was for the “prime purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen was later reimbursed the money owed to Daniels through a payment that was listed as “legal fees” by Trump’s company.

The DA is now investigating Trump for gross falsification of business records. Cohen testified before the grand jury hearing evidence in the case for the second time on Wednesday.

Tacopina maintained that the records were not falsified.

“The payment was made to an attorney, not Stormy Daniels. The payment was made to Donald Trump’s attorney, which would be considered legal fees,” he said.

“His lawyer classified them as legal services. His lawyer sent him an invoice for legal services. His lawyer told him that they would be appropriately classified as legal services. He trusted his lawyer Tacopina said. “That’s how Michael Cohen structured it.”

He also said the money was not paid in an attempt to influence the election and referred to the amount paid to Daniels as “a nuisance settlement”.

“This is to make a problem, a shameful problem, go away,” Tacopina said.

When asked why then-President Trump later denied knowing anything about the payments, Tacopina said his client was trying to honor the non-disclosure agreement Daniels signed.

“If he admits, he would be in violation of the confidentiality agreement. So, is it the truth? Of course it’s not true. Should he have told the truth? If he told the truth, he would be in violation of the agreement.” So, by him doing that, by him doing that, he was not only abiding by his rights, but by Stormy Daniels’ rights as well,” Tacopina said.

The DA’s investigation appears to be nearing completion — prosecutors last week invited Trump to testify before a grand jury, which is usually an indicator in New York state criminal cases that an investigation is about to wrap up. Trump declined the invitation.

“We’re surprised it’s gotten this far,” Tacopina said.

“I still hope they’re not going to do it, because I think it would be a huge stain on the legacy of that district attorney,” he said, adding the charges would help his client’s 2024 presidential bid . “If they bring this case up, I believe it will land them in the White House. I believe it, because it will show how they are weaponizing the justice system.”



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