(NEW YORK) — An attorney defending former President Trump from charges that he falsified business records in New York has no conflict in the case despite prior dealings with Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress whose $130,000 hush payment by Trump is central to the case, a judge decided Monday.
In a letter to defense attorney Joe Tacopina, Judge Juan Merchan wrote that “there is no conflict,” as Tacopina himself told the court when Trump was arraigned earlier this year.
“I have said from Day One there is no conflict,” Tacopina said in a statement to ABC News following the judge’s decision. “Now the court has said the same.”
Tacopina had been contacted about representing Daniels prior to her choosing since-disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti, who was later convicted of stealing her book advance.
Trump in April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with the hush money payment, which was made to Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election in order to keep her from going public about a long-denied affair.
The payment was arranged through Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen, and Trump is accused by the Manhattan district attorney’s office of falsifying the records related to his monthly reimbursements to Cohen.
Despite finding no conflict with Tacopina, the judge said he would “revisit this issue with Mr. Trump when he next appears virtually on Feb. 15, 2024.”
The judge also said Tacopina would not participate in any examination of Daniels if she is called as a witness at trial.
The case is set to go to trial in March.
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