Former President Donald Trump’s attorney in New York has departed from his legal team, with few details provided.
Attorney Joe Tacopina appeared alongside President Trump when he pleaded not guilty in a New York courthouse last year on charges that he allegedly falsified business records stemming from payments made during the 2016 election.
But Mr. Tacopina told ABC News and other media outlets on Jan. 15 that he’s no longer representing the former president in the case.
“I withdrew on all matters,” he said, without elaborating.
In a letter to Judge Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing the business records case, Mr. Tacopina wrote, “I write to respectfully inform the Court that my firm, Chad Seigel and I hereby withdraw as counsel for Defendant Donald J. Trump in this proceeding,” according to reports.
A separate motion filed in a separate court shows that Mr. Tacopina is also withdrawing from an appeal of the civil defamation and battery case against President Trump involving writer E. Jean Carroll but was also scant on details.
“Notably, counsel’s withdrawal will not preclude the perfecting of the instant appeal. Indeed, Trump’s brief and appendices have already been filed,” the motion reads.
Jury selection was scheduled to start in a second Carroll trial on Jan. 16, although Mr. Tacopina was never involved in that case. This trial stems from comments that President Trump made after a decision was handed down in the first lawsuit. Attorneys Alina Habba and Michael Madaio are representing the former president in the second trial involving Ms. Carroll.
A Trump spokesperson released a statement on Jan. 15 after Mr. Tacopina’s departure but also didn’t specify why the high-powered attorney left.
“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 campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a Jan. 15 statement.
Attorney Susan Necheles is President Trump’s lead counsel in the New York business records case, which was brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat. Attorney Todd Blanche also appeared at the April 2023 arraignment of President Trump.
In the Manhattan district attorney’s case, President Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. He also denied wrongdoing in the Carroll case, asserting that he doesn’t know the woman.
The former president has been known to change his lawyers, sometimes making major adjustments in his legal representation at key moments in cases. Just hours before he was arrested in Fulton County, Georgia, last year, President Trump changed his legal team. Also in 2023, he changed his lawyers hours after he was indicted in Florida for allegedly mishandling classified materials.
In November 2023, a disciplinary committee stated that it wouldn’t accept a complaint made by adult actress Stormy Daniels, who had alleged that Mr. Tacopina had a conflict of interest in the Manhattan case. Her lawyers had tried to get Mr. Tacopina removed from President Trump’s case, while Mr. Bragg similarly suggested that there may have been a conflict of interest there.
But Mr. Tacopina said he had no direct communication with the adult actress.
“I never met Stormy Daniels. I never spoke to Stormy Daniels, and I never reviewed any documents of Stormy Daniels,” he said at a hearing in April 2023.
In March 2023, Mr. Bragg’s office charged President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records stemming from payments that he had made during the 2016 election. While the case is currently scheduled to go to trial on March 25, few updates have come in the case—at least compared to the three other state and federal cases that the former president is facing.
Mr. Bragg’s office filed a partially redacted brief in November 2023, arguing that “a grand jury decided based on the facts and the law to charge defendant with felony crimes for his conduct” and that “this case should now proceed to trial.”
About a month before that, President Trump’s lawyers sought to dismiss the charges, arguing that the prosecution is election interference and noting that he’s the leading 2024 Republican candidate.
“After a five-year meandering, halting, and roving investigation that entailed inexplicable and unconstitutional delay, the District Attorney’s Office filed a discombobulated package of politically motivated charges marred by legal defects, procedural failures, discovery violations, and a stubborn refusal to provide meaningful particulars regarding its theory of the case,” Trump lawyers Mr. Blanche and Ms. Necheles wrote in early October 2023.
The former president also faces state and federal charges in Georgia, Washington D.C., and Florida. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.