Trump lawyer hopes Tuesday’s court hearing will stay ‘painless and classy’ | Donald Trump

An attorney for Donald Trump has said he hopes the proceedings can stay “painless and classy” at the court hearing scheduled for Tuesday where the former president plans to plead not guilty to charges filed against him after an investigation into hush money payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels.

Joe Tacopina told CNN’s State of the Union show on Sunday that many of the particulars of the arraignment set for Tuesday were still “very much up in the air” besides the fact that the ex-president would “very loud and proudly say not guilty”.

For instance, though he has said he doesn’t expect his client to be handcuffed, he claimed to not even know whether Trump would take the standard criminal defendant mugshot while being fingerprinted at the courthouse. Many people facing charges have found getting a mugshot taken to be humiliating, but some observers believe Trump could seek to put it on merchandise meant to raise funds as he runs for the oval office again in 2024.

“Hopefully, this will be as painless and classy as possible for a situation like this,” Tacopina told the show’s host, Dana Bash. “I don’t even know, really, what brings us here.”

Tacopina then spent some of the rest of his time with Bash arguing that the payments to Daniels that preceded Trump’s indictment were personal, as he’s done before. He insisted that they were part of a legal settlement, had nothing to do with the 2016 presidential campaign that he won and therefore documentation of them was not filed with the federal election commission.

“This was a personal expenditure, not a campaign expenditure,” Tacopina said. “Had it been a campaign expenditure, he would have used campaign funds, and then of course we’d be talking about … the outrage at Donald Trump [using] campaign funds for personal spending. They’d be baying for his scalp. … He’s damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.”

It remained unclear Sunday even to Trump’s legal team exactly what he had been charged with – the state indictment that a Manhattan grand jury handed up against him three days earlier was still under a court seal. However, it appears he may face dozens of charges over his role in the payment of $130,000 to Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 that the ex-president denies.

The deal to pay Daniels to stay quiet materialized during the presidential race that Trump won over Hillary Clinton as the actor negotiated a deal to go on television and discuss her claims of the purported sexual encounter. Trump’s then lawyer, Michael Cohen, made the payment before pleading guilty in 2018 to federal charges of tax evasion and campaign-finance violations.

The federal case that ensnared Cohen – who has since forfeited his license to practice law in New York – did not produce any charges against Trump. It was a separate state grand jury empaneled earlier this year by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg which voted to indict Trump after investigating whether the way in which he repaid Cohen – in $35,000 monthly increments documented as legal expenses – complied with laws governing campaign finances and the keeping of business records.

At least one of the charges filed against Trump is a felony, reported the Associated Press, citing people familiar with the matter, which ostensibly increases the risk of prison time the former president might face if he is eventually convicted.

Tacopina on Sunday dismissed Cohen as “a pathological, convicted liar”. He also alluded to how Cohen had gone on CNN hours after Trump became the first former US president to be indicted criminally and said he actually didn’t believe he had done anything wrong when he pleaded guilty in 2018.

“I have all the documents to show – there was no tax evasion,” Cohen said. “None of this is accurate.”

Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, spoke on the air with Bash after Tacopina and said there was “substantial documentation” beyond his client’s word of Trump’s role in the Daniels hush money as well as a similar payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. McDougal has maintained that she had an affair with Trump in 2006 as well, when he was already married to former first lady Melania Trump. Trump denies McDougal’s claims, too.

“There are other documents from other people and other testimony from other people – some of it direct [and] involved in conversations with Mr Trump,” Davis said. “It’s a wrong strategy if he thinks he’s building his whole strategy on personal attacks on Michael Cohen.”

Preparations for Trump’s arraignment at Manhattan’s state criminal courthouse at 100 Centre Street have been ongoing for more than a week. Barriers have been put in place to help authorities with crowd control.

If Trump enters his plea as planned on Tuesday, he is scheduled to be doing so in a courtroom where defendants accused of murder, attempted terrorism and illegal gun possession are set to appear as well.

Reuters reported that the former president intended to spend the night at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday night. Trump sent out a statement on Sunday saying he then planned to make remarks at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Tuesday evening after the scheduled arraignment.

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