‘Let Me Answer’: Ari Melber, Trump Lawyer Spar Over Payments

[Screenshot Ari Melber]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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MSNBC’s Ari Melber and former President Donald Trump’s lawyer sparred Tuesday night over whether Trump paid hush money prior to the 2016 election.

The Manhattan District Attorney is investigating a $130,000 payment made to former porn star Stormy Daniels by Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen. The district attorney is investigating whether Trump forged business records to hide the payout, which Cohen said he was reimbursed for though Trump denies it.

“I want to get the benefit of your response,” Melber said to Joe Tacopina citing a New York Times report. (RELATED: Court Orders Michael Avenatti To Pay Stormy Daniels Almost $150,000)

“‘Prosecutors could argue that $130,000 became a donation to Trump’s campaign under the theory the money was silencing Daniels.’ So two-part question: why lie about this and why misidentify the payment if it was legal? And second, your response to that theory of the case?”


“First of all there’s a crucial distinction between separating campaign funds from personal funds, right? And on personal fund usage, here’s the bright line test,” Tacopina said. “And it ends this case. It ends any case regarding Stormy Daniels. If the spending or the fulfillment of a commitment or the expenditure would exist irrespective of a campaign, it’s not a campaign law violation. End of story.”

“You’re making a potential defense that he would’ve paid this out, regardless?” Melber pressed.

“It’s – not only would I say that. His lawyer at the time, who pled guilty to all sorts of lies and frauds who’s now a cooperator said that under oath. He said that under oath,” Tacopina said.

Melber then asked whether Trump made “a payment like this” at another point.

“How would I – I have no idea, Ari,” Tacopina said. “But Donald Trump is a litigious individual, who gets sued by a lot of people, ok? Commences lawsuits. And all the time, things are settled.”

Tacopina argued that type of payment is a “nuisance settlement” but that it doesn’t “mean it’s real” but rather it is meant to settle “something to not have to deal with the aggravation of it.”

Melber played a clip of Trump denying he was aware that Cohen paid Daniels before asking why Trump was lying about it.

“Ari, that is – if that’s what you’re gonna consider a lie, a lie to me is something material under oath in a proceeding.”

“I didn’t say perjury, I said a lie,” Melber responded.

“Yeah, but that’s not a lie.”

“That’s not a lie?!” Melber said.

“Here’s why it’s not a lie,” Tacopina said as he reached for a piece of paper that Melber was hiding. “Could you put the paper down? Put the paper down. Let me answer.”

“Here’s why it’s not a lie. Because it was a confidential settlement,” Tacopina explained. “So, if he acknowledged that, he would be violating the confidential settlement. So, is it the truth? Of course not, it’s not the truth! Was he supposed to tell the truth? He would be in violation of the agreement if he told the truth. So, by him doing that, by him doing that he was abiding by, not only his rights, but Stormy Daniels’ rights.”

The two continued to spar for the duration of the segment.