Joe Tacopina, one of former President Trump’s New York trial lawyers who is known for representing high-profile clients, is withdrawing from Trump’s cases.
Tacopina had represented Trump in both his criminal hush money case — one of four indictments Trump faces — and a sexual battery civil lawsuit brought by longtime advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.
The motivation behind Tacopina’s departure remains unclear. He confirmed to The Hill he was withdrawing from Trump’s cases but declined further comment.
The development comes one day before Carroll, who won a $5 million judgment against Trump last year, is set to take him to trial a second time seeking damages for defamation. It also comes on the day of the Iowa caucuses, where Trump is the huge favorite as he seeks to take a major step toward the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
Tacopina is not counsel in the Carroll case about to head to trial, but he was representing Trump in his appeal of last year’s verdict. Tacopina on Monday sent a notice seeking to withdraw himself and his firm as Trump’s counsel in that appeal.
“President Trump has the most experienced, qualified, disciplined, and overall strongest legal team ever assembled as he continues to fight for America and Americans against these partisan, Crooked Joe Biden-led election interference hoaxes,” Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement.
Trump has been known to cycle through a host of lawyers in his various legal entanglements, at times issuing major shake-ups in his representation at key moments.
Trump changed up his legal team in Georgia hours before he surrendered on criminal charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and he similarly did so in Florida hours after he was indicted there on charges over alleged mishandling of classified documents.
A former Brooklyn prosecutor, Tacopina gained a reputation for cultivating high-profile clients long before he added Trump to his list.
Over the years, Tacopina has represented celebrities like Michael Jackson, A-Rod, Meek Mill and Don Imus. He is also representing A$AP Rocky as he defends against two criminal assault counts, to which the rapper pleaded not guilty earlier this month.
But none came close to the limelight that came with representing Trump in what marked the first criminal indictment of a former president.
After Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments, Tacopina took to defending his client both in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion.
Tacopina sat with Trump before the New York judge as he pleaded not guilty, and Tacopina regularly took to cable news surrounding the indictment dropping last spring.
For months, however, he did not sign alongside Trump’s other lawyers as they submitted defense motions in the case because the judge was weighing whether Tacopina had a conflict of interest in the case. The judge ultimately cleared the way for Tacopina to continue, finding no issue.
Tacopina last year also represented Trump at trial in a civil lawsuit brought by Carroll, a longtime advice columnist who accused Trump in 2019 of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s.
The jury ultimately did not find enough evidence to declare Trump liable for rape, but they did find him liable for sexual abuse, awarding Carroll $5 million.
Trump did not testify at that trial and has since expressed regret for not doing so. In recent days, he has vowed to attend Carroll’s upcoming trial against him for defamation.
“I was asked by my lawyer not to attend—’It was beneath me, and they have no case,’” Trump complained on Truth Social last month.