Donald Trump's Attorney Hits Back at Michael Cohen: 'Laughing Stock'

Donald Trump's attorney Joe Tacopina has said he "can only laugh" at Michael Cohen's criticism of him, describing the former lawyer, who was sentenced to prison in 2018, as "the biggest laughing stock the bar has ever seen."

Tacopina's remarks to Newsweek on Thursday came after Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and long-term confidant—who spent time in federal prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and tax evasion—called Joe Tacopina a "disgrace to the profession of law."

Cohen said Tacopina risked ending up in the same position as Trump's other legal representatives after he publicly defended his client over an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney over his alleged involvement in hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was allegedly paid $130,000 by Cohen in 2016 to stay quiet about her supposed involvement with Trump while the presidential campaign was ongoing. Cohen has said under oath and in print that he was reimbursed by Trump.

Joe Tacopina Michael Cohen
Joe Tacopina on October 18, 2022 in Genoa, Italy and, inset, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former attorney, arrives at his Park Avenue home after being released from federal prison on July 24, 2020 in New York City. The two have criticized one anothers' legal credentials. Simone Arveda/Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Trump was invited the testify in front of a grand jury this week, which legal experts described as the "last stop" before an indictment in most cases like it. In a statement, Trump described it as a "fake case" and a "political witch-hunt."

On Monday, Tacopina appeared on Fox News, arguing that Trump had been the "victim of extortion" in reference to the hush money claims. Another lawyer, George Conway, separated husband of former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, said that this did not constitute a defense.

On Tuesday, Tacopina was asked by MSNBC's Ari Melber about Trump stating in April 2018 that he knew nothing about the hush money payment to Daniels. The lawyer said it was "not a lie" as to tell the truth would "be violating the confidential settlement."

"What I will tell you emphatically is what Joe is doing right now is he's playing to a party of one, and that's Donald Trump," Cohen told the news channel on Wednesday. "He will say the most ludicrous nonsense that you can say because that's what Donald wants to hear."

When asked to comment on Cohen's remarks, Tacopina responded: "As to being critiqued as a lawyer by Cohen, a disbarred felon who was convicted of being a liar and did a federal prison term, I can only laugh. He is the biggest laughing stock the bar has ever seen.

"Not to mention I will put my track record up against his any day," he continued. "While I have actually won some of the most high-profile cases in the country, Cohen, before he became a disbarred felon, never saw the inside of a courtroom. His existence was based on going on television to tell everyone how amazing Donald Trump was. Now his existence is trying to find a way to make a dollar and get is name in the newspaper."

Newsweek has reached out to Cohen's lawyer via email for comment.

According to National Trial Lawyers, a legal resource, Tacopina is "one of the country's most respected high-stakes trial attorneys" who has successfully tried over 100 cases. When he was a prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, it said he won 39 out of 40 trials.

Daniels met with prosecutors investigating the payment on Wednesday, her lawyer confirmed. He said Daniels has "agreed to make herself available as a witness," in a further sign the Manhattan district attorney's office is gearing up to bring charges.

It emerged as Cohen was giving a second day of testimony to a grand jury looking into the matter.

Coming from the hearing on Wednesday, Cohen stressed that despite his estrangement from Trump, he was not out for revenge, telling the Associated Press: "This is not about him. This is about holding accountability, truth to power, and everything else in between."