The attorney representing adult film star Stormy Daniels has turned over to the Manhattan district attorney correspondence between his client and the attorney representing President Donald Trump, a development that may impact the president’s representation at trial.
Speaking with CNN, Daniels’ lawyer said Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg now has messages between Daniels and Trump attorney Joe Tacopina going back to 2018 when Daniels began seeking legal representation. The case before DA Bragg, who has yet to announce charges against Mr. Trump, involves a $130,000 settlement paid to Daniels to quiet rumors of an extramarital affairs days before the 2016 presidential election.
Clark Brewster, Daniels’ current attorney who made the disclosure, said the communication shows Mr. Tacopina may have broken a confidentiality agreement with Ms. Daniels as he told others at his law firm about the information. Brewster said a judge who reviews the messages may decide to limit or prevent Tacopina from giving any courtroom defense at all to President Trump.
New York law says an attorney who has “learned information from a prospective client shall not use or reveal that information,” and Mr. Brewster believes past interviews by the president’s attorney appear at odds with the impression he gave Ms. Daniels during their private conversations.
Legal analysts say state law is not only designed to protect a potential client like Ms. Daniels but also Mr. Trump, who may suffer from a weakened defense if his attorney is prevented from cross-examining her as a witness.
Attorney complications are the latest sign that the president’s legal team is already facing a formidable challenge in defending him against DA Bragg’s attempts to show that President Trump directed his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen to disguise the payment to Daniels as a business transaction. Prosecutors would need to show that the payment amounted to a political campaign contribution to avoid damaging political headlines in the run-up to the 2016 election. The untested legal argument has spectators wondering how convincing the charges against President Trump will be should he face prosecution.