- Tacopina said Trump has a “right to have an issue with everything” since he’s being “politically persecuted.”
- Tacopina, however, said he has no reason to believe the Manhattan judge will be biased against the former president.
- Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, who Trump claims “HATES” him, has beefed up security at the courthouse.
Joe Tacopina, an attorney for Donald Trump, said the former president has a “right to have an issue with everything” after Trump claimed a judge involved in his Manhattan criminal case was biased against him.
Tacopina echoed Trump’s claims that a grand jury indictment handed down last week in Manhattan was a form of political persecution, but he stopped short of saying that he would request a different judge.
“Had he not been running for the presidency, he would not have been indicted,” Tacopina said of Trump on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We are going to take the indictment, evaluate all our legal options, and pursue every one most vigorously.”
A grand jury indicted Trump last week after an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. The details of that indictment remain sealed.
On Friday, Trump posted on Truth Social that Judge Juan Manuel Merchan – who will preside over the hearings in Manhattan – has it out for him. Merchan also presided over the trial of the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, last year. Without evidence, Trump claimed Merchan “strong armed” Weisselberg, who eventually pled guilty to financial crimes last August.
In the exchange on CNN on Sunday, Tacopina appeared to be trying to walk a fine line between supporting his client and staying in good standing with Merchan ahead of Trump’s arraignment, which is expected on Tuesday.
“You know, I have no issue with this judge whatsoever. He has a very good reputation,” Tacopina told CNN host Dana Bash.
“Well, your client does,” Bash shot back.
“My client has a right to have an issue with everything. He’s been politically persecuted. Make no mistake about that, Dana,” Tacopina replied. “He is lashing out because he’s the victim.”
—CNN (@CNN) April 2, 2023
When Bash repeated her question about Trump’s claims that Merchan is biased against him, Tacopina said: “I have no reason to believe this judge is biased. I have not been before him on this matter.”
Security at the Manhattan Criminal Court has been tight since the Trump indictment on Thursday. Merchan’s personal security has also been beefed up, Insider previously reported.