Trump’s New York lawyers are latest in long, troubled line

By Jacqueline Thomsen

(Reuters) – Representing Donald Trump, who is now under indictment in New York, is no easy job. Just ask the former president himself.

“I say sometimes to a lawyer, ‘Are you sure you want to represent me? I think you’re making a mistake. What do you need it for?'” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday, discussing the legal troubles some of his own attorneys have faced.

A Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on Thursday following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, making him the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges even as he makes another run for the White House.

Attorneys Susan Necheles, Joe Tacopina and Chad Seigel are set to defend Trump in the case. Necheles and Tacopina, both former Brooklyn prosecutors, said Thursday that they would “vigorously fight” the charges.

Trump has cycled through private lawyers ever since he took office as president in 2016, through congressional investigations, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference, his own false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and fallout from the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

One of his past lawyers, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations over the Daniels payment and served three years in prison and under home confinement. He is expected to be a key witness in the New York case.

Along the way, Trump has built a reputation for demanding loyalty from his attorneys and rejecting advice that clashes with his own brash style.

“He wants a lawyer who is completely loyal to him and will do what he tells them,” said Ty Cobb, who managed the White House’s response to Mueller’s probe for Trump before being replaced in 2018.

Trump’s long list of past attorneys includes former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who oversaw Trump’s post-2020 election litigation. His New York law license was suspended in 2021 after a court said he made “demonstrably false and misleading” election fraud claims.

Tacopina, a sharp-suited frequent cable news commenter who is accustomed to litigating in the spotlight of New York’s tabloids, has represented rapper Meek Mill, former Yankees baseball star Alex Rodriguez and Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle. The attorney told Reuters before the indictment that he is unafraid of controversial cases and that he and Trump have a relationship of “mutual respect.”

Tacopina is also defending Trump in a defamation lawsuit from writer E. Jean Carroll over Trump’s denial of Carroll’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s.

Necheles, a onetime lawyer for late Genovese crime family underboss Venero “Benny Eggs” Mangano, defended the Trump Organization in a criminal trial last year in which the company was convicted of a scheme to defraud tax authorities.

(Reporting by Jacqueline Thomsen in Washington; Editing by David Bario and Jonathan Oatis)