Donald Trump’s criminal defense attorney makes another mess for him

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When Donald Trump’s legal team began floating a potential trial defense involving accusing Stormy Daniels of extortion, it turned out to be a mistake. The Manhattan DA quickly met with Daniels to square away any testimony that she might need to give at trial. Then Trump sent Robert Costello to the grand jury as a defense witness. His incoherent rambling didn’t help Trump at all, and Costello ended up whining about it to the TV cameras. Once again, Trump and his legal team were blowing their ability to spring Costello as a surprise witness at trial. Now Trump and his team may have blown it a third time.

Trump attorney Joe Tacopina – whose television appearances are quickly becoming legendary for their stupidity – is now apparently abandoning the “extortion” argument in favor of arguing that this was about resolving a civil settlement:

Wait, which one is it? Is it extortion or is it a civil settlement? Trump and his legal team can’t seem to decide whether they want to argue that this $130,000 payment was part of a crime by Stormy Daniels, or if it was part of a legal resolution. Those two things can’t both be true, and to claim one is to undercut the other.

So what are Donald Trump and his legal team planning to go into trial with at this point? They appear to have ruined both the “extortion” and the “civil settlement” defenses by pushing them both. And they appear to have ruined the Costello stunt by rolling it out too soon. Of course none of these things would have worked even if they’d been saved for trial, which goes to the larger point. Trump has no defense in this case, or we’d be seeing it. He has nothing and he knows it, so he’s reduced to throwing things at the wall at random. That may work in an arena like Republican Party politics. But in the criminal justice system it just gets you convicted.

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