Trump claims judge overseeing New York case ‘hates’ him. His lawyer says it isn’t true.

April 4, 2023

On Sunday, April 2, f Donald Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, said he doesn’t believe the judge who oversaw Trump’s indictment is biased—contradicting days of the former president’s attacks in which he declared that the judge “HATES ME,” reports The Washington Post.

On Friday, Trump claimed on his Truth Social account that Juan Merchanthe New York Supreme Court justice who’s overseeing the criminal proceedings—had treated Trump’s company “VICIOUSLY” in a tax fraud case that wrapped up in January and had “railroaded” the former CFO for the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, into pleading guilty.

But Tacopina, speaking Sunday to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’s “This Week,” waved off the criticism. “Do I think the judge is biased? Of course not,” Tacopina said. “How could I subscribe to that when I’ve had no interactions with the judge that would lead me to believe he’s biased?”

When pressed about why his client was saying the opposite, Tacopina said, “You’re interviewing me, George, right?” and added, “I’m his attorney, but I’m myself. I’m not his PR person. I’m not a spokesperson. He’s entitled to his own opinion and, what he’s been through, quite frankly, I don’t blame him for feeling the way he feels.”

Trump is expected to appear before Merchan for an arraignment Tuesday. His indictment remains under seal, which means the specific charges are not known. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been investigating a payment made before the 2016 presidential election to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress, to keep her from publicly discussing a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years earlier.

Tacopina told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that, when Trump makes his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon, “We will very loudly and proudly say, ‘not guilty.’” The Washington Post reported Friday that the former president plans to fly to New York on Monday before surrendering ahead of Tuesday’s arraignment. And Trump’s 2024 campaign announced Sunday he will speak Tuesday night from Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home, shortly after 8 p.m. (EDT).

Republicans continued to echo Trump’s attack on the legal system Sunday—calling the indictment an unprecedented attack on a political leader that may lead to legal or even physical retaliation. The escalating rhetoric also came as one former district attorney warned Sunday that Trump’s public statements and social media posts could lead to more serious charges than what he is facing now.

“I would be mindful of not committing some other criminal offense, like obstruction of governmental administration,” Cyrus R. Vance, the former district attorney for Manhattan, told NBC News’s “Meet the Press.” “And I think that could take what perhaps we think is not the strongest case, when you add a count like that, put it in front of a jury, it can change the jury’s mind about the severity of the case that they’re looking at.”

James M. Trusty, a lawyer representing Trump in the federal case over his handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and in a Georgia case about alleged interference in that state’s counting of votes in the 2020 election, said Trump’s indictment in Manhattan is “political persecution.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost