(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump’s lawyer doesn’t know what to expect when the former president is arraigned on Tuesday in New York City given the historic nature of Trump’s indictment, he said on Sunday.
“This is unprecedented. I don’t know. I’ve done a million arraignments in that courthouse with celebrities and whatnot. But this is a whole different thing. We have Secret Service involved. I understand they’re closing the courthouse for the afternoon. I just don’t know what to expect to see,” Joe Tacopina told ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“What I hope is that we get in and out of there as quickly as possible, that it’s, at the end of the day, a typical arraignment where we stand before the judge, we say ‘not guilty,’ we set schedules to file motions and whatnot or discovery, and we move forward and get out of there,” Tacopina said.
He likened the case to “persecution” and said the charges, which remain under seal, “revolve around” Trump paying money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep her from going public with a claim of an affair that Trump denies.
Asked by Stephanopoulos if Trump was planning to address reporters with a press conference after his court appearance, Tacopina said, “I don’t know what the president’s plans are. We’ve been speaking, but he knows Trump better than anybody. And he’s not afraid to speak.”
“But again, I think that’s the decision he’ll make, his PR team will make, and maybe even the Secret Service in conjunction with that. But we’ll have to wait and see,” Tacopina said. (Later Sunday, Trump’s team said he would make a speech Tuesday night from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.)
When pressed on whether Tacopina agrees with Trump’s assessment that the judge in the case is biased, Tacopina said he disagreed.
“No, I don’t believe that judge is biased. I mean, the president has his own opinion,” he said.
“I’m his attorney, but I’m myself. I’m not his PR person,” he continued. “I’m not his 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.”
The indictment, which was announced Thursday after a monthslong examination by a Manhattan grand jury, has sparked uproar from Republicans and a mix of jubilation and hesitance from Democrats who believe Trump broke the law but are wary of him turning the proceedings into a political boon in the early stages of the 2024 presidential race.
Trump is expected to travel on Monday to New York, where he will surrender to law enforcement for processing and face around two dozen counts, including felonies, sources familiar with the matter have told ABC News.
He has long maintained investigations into him are part of a partisan “witch hunt,” though he has defended reimbursing the payment to Daniels while denying he ever had a sexual relationship with her.
“He’s gearing up for a battle,” Tacopina said on “This Week.”
“Factually, it’s a joke. And it won’t survive a challenge of law in a courtroom,” he said of the case, though Stephanopoulos pushed back and noted that Tacopina “can’t know that for sure” because the charges are still sealed ahead of the arraignment.
While Tacopina acknowledged much remained unknown, even to Trump’s lawyers, his goal was clear: “I want this to be done as smoothly and quickly as possible and begin this fight to do really — to put justice back on course.”
He downplayed a recent report that Trump’s legal team was considering seeking to have the case moved to Staten Island, which is seen as a more favorable environment for Trump: “We’re way too early to start deciding what motions we’re going to file or not file.” But he also said, “Everything’s on the table.”
“It’s way too premature to start worrying about venue changes until we really see the indictment and grapple with the legal issues,” he said.
More broadly, Tacopina said he worried about what a case against a former president could mean for the country.
“We all know that had Donald Trump not been Donald Trump and was ‘John Smith,’ this case never would have been brought,” he said.
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Aaron Katersky, Olivia Rubin and John Santucci contributed to this report.
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