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Trump Lawyer Tacopina Says ‘I Feel We're Not Going to Get to a Jury' in New York Case

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
  • A criminal defense lawyer for Donald Trump expects that the hush money case against the former president will be dismissed without having to go to trial.
  • "I feel that we're not going to get to a jury," the lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said in an interview on NBC's "TODAY" show.
  • Trump is charged in Manhattan Supreme Court with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
  • The case relates to an effort by Trump to have hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels and others to keep the stories from emerging before the 2016 election.

A criminal defense lawyer for Donald Trump said Wednesday he expects that the porn star hush money case against the former president to get dismissed without having to go to trial in New York City.

"I feel that we're not going to get to a jury," the lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said in an interview on NBC's "TODAY" show.

"I think this case is going to fall on its merits on legal challenges well before we get to a jury," Tacopina said.

The lawyer's prediction came after "TODAY" host Savannah Guthrie asked if he believed Trump could get a fair jury in Manhattan, where the Republican ex-president is charged in state Supreme Court with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The indictment alleges Trump illegally covered up efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by hiding the true nature of payments to his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to reimburse him for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford.

Trump in a social media post before his arraignment on Tuesday called Manhattan a "very unfair venue" for the case, which, he said, "should be moved to nearby Staten Island."

Trump suffered his biggest margin of defeat in New York City to President Joe Biden in Manhattan in the 2020 election and managed to win just one of the city's five boroughs: Staten Island.

Tacopina did not answer Guthrie's question about whether a "fair jury" could be selected for trial in Manhattan.

He said that after "seeing that indictment and knowing what the law is regarding federal election campaigns, I don't think we're getting close to a jury."

But, Tacopina added, "If we get to a jury, I think any person on the right or politically opposed to Trump or in favor of him is going to see this for what it is: It's a weaponization of the legal system, and it's something this country has never seen before and hopefully will never do again."

Trump, who is seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, argues that he is being prosecuted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, as part of a broader effort to harm Trump politically. Trump, meanwhile, has raised millions in campaign funds off the indictment.

Tacopina and the rest of Trump's legal team plan to attack the Manhattan indictment in pretrial motions on several grounds, including arguing that the business records charges are, at best, misdemeanors, because they do not relate to other crimes.

Under New York law, falsifying business records is a felony only if the records were misstated to cover up another crime.

Bragg said Tuesday that the alleged crimes Trump covered up by claiming the reimbursements to Cohen were for legal expenses included violations of election law and tax law.

Trump is next due to appear in court in early December.

That is two months before the Republican Party is set to hold the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary for presidential candidates, including Trump.

The timeline means that if Trump cannot get the Manhattan case dismissed by his next scheduled hearing, a trial in the case could occur in the middle of the primary season or after the GOP selects its 2024 nominee.

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