Skip to content Skip to footer

Top Trump Attorney Withdraws Ahead of E. Jean Carroll Defamation Trial

Joe Tacopina’s departure came just one day before jury selection is set to begin in New York.

Joe Tacopina, attorney for former President Donald Trump, leaves federal court in Manhattan on May 9, 2023, in New York City.

A top attorney on Donald Trump’s legal team on Monday withdrew from two of the former president’s unfolding trials in Manhattan, The New York Times reported.

Joe Tacopina, a lawyer known for handling high-profile cases, bowed out of Trump’s criminal trial in which he stands accused of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the final stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign. The lawyer also departed from the case in which writer E. Jean Carroll is appealing the verdict in a lawsuit she brought against the ex-president after he was already ordered to pay her $5 million when a jury in May found him liable of sexually abusing and defaming her.

The Times reported that Tacopina has a proven track record of taking on prominent legal cases, defending the likes of former Yankees player Alex Rodriguez, rapper A$AP Rocky, and Fox News host Sean Hannity, who on his show referred to Tacopina as one of the “greatest defense attorneys of all time.” Speaking to the Times, Rodriguez spoke highly of Tacopina from the lawyer’s time representing him during his suspension from Major League Baseball for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, though he did not comment on anything related to Tacopina and Trump.

“He’s not a person that just phones it in; he lives it,” Rodriguez said. “When he defends you, he defends you like you’re family.”

Tacopina declined to comment when asked about his decision to withdraw and the reasons behind which remain unclear, the Times noted. Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung skirted around Tacopina’s departure when asked for comment, only noting that Trump “has the most experienced, qualified, disciplined, and overall strongest legal team ever assembled.”

“That’s never a good sign for a criminal defendant,” attorney Bradley Moss tweeted after Tacopina’s departure.

Tacopina’s withdrawal from Trump’s cases comes amid a tumultuous year of legal battles for the former president as he navigates four criminal indictments, with what is perhaps the most notable of which — the federal trial alleging that Trump attempted to subvert the 2020 presidential election — set to begin in March.

Trump and Tacopina, despite maintaining a seemingly amicable relationship throughout Tacopina’s tenure on the ex-president’s legal team, ostensibly butted heads in December over the fact that Trump did not attend the trial for E. Jean Carroll’s rape and defamation suit last year, per Tacopina’s advice. On December 7, Trump took to his Truth Social platform to rant after one of the Democratic Party’s largest financiers and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman donated $250,000 to a super PAC supporting 2024 Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

“This disgusting Slob, a Democrat Political Operative, is the same guy who funded a woman who I knew absolutely nothing about, sued me for Rape, for which I was found NOT GUILTY,” Trump ranted on Truth Social. “She didn’t remember the year, decade, or much else! In Interviews she said some amazingly ‘inconsistent’ things. Disgraceful Trial—Very unfair. I was asked by my lawyer not to attend—’It was beneath me, and they have no case.’ That was not good advice.”

Hoffman has helped to fund a number of anti-MAGA candidates and causes, and helped financially support Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump.

Trump recently told the Times that he wishes to testify in the new Carroll defamation trial. Tacopina’s withdrawal from Trump’s legal team comes only a day before jury selection is slated to begin.

Trump repeatedly slandered Carroll after he was found liable, continuing to refute her accusations and denying all wrongdoing. Last week, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan delivered an order barring the former president from denying that he sexually abused the longtime columnist in the 1990s, clarifying that the upcoming defamation trial proceedings would not be restating or debating whether he assaulted her. “In other words, the material facts concerning the alleged sexual assault already have been determined, and this trial will not be a ‘do over’ of the previous trial,” Kaplan said in the 27-page order.

Countdown is on: We have 2 days to raise $28,000

Truthout has launched a necessary fundraising campaign to support our work. Can you support us right now?

Each day, our team is reporting deeply on complex political issues: revealing wrongdoing in our so-called justice system, tracking global attacks on human rights, unmasking the money behind right-wing movements, and more. Your tax-deductible donation at this time is critical, allowing us to do this core journalistic work.

As we face increasing political scrutiny and censorship for our reporting, Truthout relies heavily on individual donations at this time. Please give today if you can.