In a surprising turn of events, high-profile attorney Joe Tacopina has stepped down from former President Donald Trump’s legal team, The New York Times reports. Tacopina, renowned for his involvement in several celebrity legal battles, withdrew from two major cases involving Trump, marking a significant shift in the former president’s defense strategy.
Tacopina had been handling the criminal trial where Trump is accused of falsifying business records linked to a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. He was also representing Trump in the appeal case against writer E. Jean Carroll, who won a $5 million verdict against Trump for alleged sexual abuse and defamation.
Known for his aggressive defense in high-profile cases, including representing figures like Alex Rodriguez, A$AP Rocky, and Fox News host Sean Hannity, Tacopina’s departure has raised eyebrows in legal circles. Rodriguez, speaking to The Times, praised Tacopina’s commitment, saying, “When he defends you, he defends you like you’re family.”
The reasons behind Tacopina’s withdrawal remain a mystery, as he declined to comment on his decision. Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Steven Cheung, sidestepped questions about the departure, emphasizing instead the strength of Trump’s legal team.
Bradley Moss, an attorney, reacted to the news on Twitter, suggesting that Tacopina’s withdrawal is not a positive sign for Trump’s defense. Tacopina’s exit comes during a challenging year for Trump, who faces four criminal indictments, including the high-profile federal trial concerning his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, set to begin in March.
Tensions between Trump and Tacopina reportedly surfaced last December when Trump publicly expressed regret for not attending Carroll’s trial, going against Tacopina’s advice. Trump’s frustration spilled over onto his Truth Social platform, where he ranted against Democratic Party financier Reid Hoffman, who had donated to Carroll’s lawsuit and supported 2024 Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.
In a recent development, Trump has expressed a desire to testify in Carroll’s new defamation trial, just as jury selection is about to commence. His ongoing refutation of Carroll’s accusations and denial of any wrongdoing has been a constant theme. Last week, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered that the upcoming trial would not revisit the assault allegations but would focus solely on the defamation aspect.
This shake-up in Trump’s legal team is a critical moment in the former president’s ongoing legal battles, suggesting potential shifts in strategy and approach as he navigates these complex and high-profile cases.