The judge in New York prosecutors’ hush money case against Donald Trump said lawyer Joe Tacopina can continue representing the former president despite the attorney’s prior dealings with Stormy Daniels.
Manhattan prosecutors had flagged Tacopina’s previous communications with the porn star as a conflict of interest, as she is at the center of their case. But in a letter dated Sept. 1, Judge Juan Merchan disagreed, writing that “there is no conflict.”
Tacopina welcomed the judge’s decision.
Clark Brewster, a lawyer for Daniels, told CNN in March he gave the prosecution communications that Daniels had had with Tacopina and others at Tacopina’s law firm in 2018 when she was looking for legal counsel. Brewster claimed the exchanges demonstrated Tacopina had access to Daniels’ confidential information.
While the judge sided with Tacopina, he said he will bring up the issue with the former president early next year.
“Nonetheless, in an excess of caution, the Court will revisit this issue with Mr. Trump when he next appears virtually on February 15, 2024,” Merchan wrote.
Merchan also accepted Tacopina’s offer not to examine Daniels if she is called as a witness by the prosecution.
At the center of the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is a $130,000 payment Daniels received in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump years prior. A Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump in April on 34 counts of falsifying business records.
Trump has denied wrongdoing.
The trial’s start date is currently slated for March 25, but the judge has signaled he is open to changing it given Trump’s “rapidly evolving trial schedule.”
Apart from the Manhattan case, Trump has been indicted three additional times over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, his efforts to undo the 2020 election, and his scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Georgia.