Twice-impeached and criminally indicted former President Donald Trump (who faces at least three other criminal investigations) has hired a new lawyer one day before his arraignment.
Todd Blanche, an elite white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, has been tapped to be Trump’s lead counsel as he heads into Manhattan to face his indictment over a hush-money payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, reports Politico.
The hire comes amid turmoil within Trump’s legal team, as a number of the former president’s other lawyers have derided co–lead defense attorney Joe Tacopina as “dumb” and a “loudmouth,” according to Rolling Stone.
And perhaps the complaints are not unwarranted: In recent weeks, Tacopina has taken a shovel and only dug his boss in deeper. Appearing on MSNBC, Tacopina tried to snatch notes away from host Ari Melber as he fact-checked Tacopina in real time.
Melber asked Tacopina if he would defend Trump in the investigation into his role in inciting the January 6 attack. Tacopina said he would if he “believed in the case,” but wouldn’t definitively say yes.
These instances, among others, seem to have swayed Trump’s allies against the lawyer. One source called Tacopina “such a frickin’ idiot” to Rolling Stone.
Blanche has previously represented Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Igor Fruman, a former Rudy Giuliani associate who allegedly helped search in Ukraine for damaging information on Trump’s rivals. He was sentenced to a one-year prison term for a campaign finance violation.
Both Manafort and Fruman had been charged by Manhattan courts. Manafort was charged specifically by then–Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and was able to evade mortgage fraud and other charges with the help of Blanche.
Blanche had called charges against Manafort “politically motivated,” which perhaps gives Trump all the more comfort as he throws the same accusations at current Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
In a separate case, federal prosecutors have also expanded investigations into whether Trump’s social media company (which owns Truth Social) violated money-laundering laws. Manafort was able to strike a deal that avoided a money-laundering charge; perhaps Blanche will get to try the same with Trump.