Fox and CNN host Trump lawyers to spin indictment as a “weaponization of the justice system”

On the day of former President Donald Trump’s arraignment, lawyers representing him in various ongoing legal battles – the investigation into Trump's involvement in January 6, the mishandled documents case, and the now 34 felony counts of falsifying business records – piled on cable news to defend their client. In total, current and former Trump lawyers have made 10 appearances across CNN and Fox News between when the indictment was unsealed on April 4 through the night of April 5. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, though he goes on to criticize Trump, has made four appearances across CNN and MSNBC since the indictment was announced. 

Together, several of them pushed that the case was weak, plainly politically motivated, and would be quickly dismissed before it goes to trial. 

On CNN, attorney Jim Trusty – who is representing Trump against the Department of Justice – repeated now commonplace complaints about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg directing a supposed “personal political persecution” against Trump and about the credibility of “convicted perjurer” Michael Cohen, whose testimony may be significant to the case. Anchor Jake Tapper pushed back then, saying that “as a matter of fact, it does appear that Michael Cohen was telling the truth on these hush money payments,” to which Trusty replied, “You’re making a little bit of a leap.” 

Trusty conceded that “nobody’s disputing whether there was a nondisclosure agreement,” between Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels, but pushed that this is a normal thing to do. Tapper replied that “the issue is not whether or not the NDA is legal,” but was about Trump’s responsibility in reporting it to the FEC as a campaign contribution, but decided to move on before Trusty could respond.  

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Citation From the April 4, 2023, edition of CNN's The Arrest and Arraignment of Donald Trump 

Trusty stressed that “the issue is the credibility in terms of deciphering some sort of intent,” which is “trash,” he said, that even US attorneys and Bragg’s predecessors “wouldn’t touch.” 

He celebrated what he considered “legal frailties that accompany the credibility frailties,” and pushed that trying to prove Trump had “specific intent to essentially break federal law,” is “not only uncharted territory, that’s perilous territory.” 

Joe Tacopina, who is representing Trump in Manhattan, appeared on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, and said that prosecutors “missed the mark gravely, because federal election law makes it clear that the facts in this case do not equal a violation of federal campaign laws at all,” and it’s “shocking” that Bragg “would try and prosecute something as thin as this.” Like Trusty, he also complained about this being a “political prosecution” and further evidence of the “weaponization of the justice system.” Tacopina ended the interview saying that he expects the case to be dismissed before it goes to trial. 

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Citation From the April 4, 2023, edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier 

A few hours later, on Hannity, Tacopina repeated these claims and continued to stress that Trump did not violate FEC laws, but even if he had, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton only faced a fine for similar violations, while “they cobbled together a few misdemeanors and call it a felony” against Trump. Tacopina again said that Trump’s legal team plans to file “all sorts of motions,” to dismiss the case, and that “this case won’t see a jury, in my opinion.” 

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Citation From the April 4, 2023, edition of Fox News' Hannity

David Schoen, who defended Trump in his second impeachment trial and later represented Steve Bannon in his contempt of Congress case, complained on The Ingraham Angle that “the target crime here is absent from every count of the indictment.” However, he spun that vagueness to help Trump, saying it “opens so many opportunities to the defense for broad discovery” that could potentially discredit the case entirely. 

On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Trump lawyer Alina Habba said that the Bragg “failed to put … any factual basis,” into the indictment and questioned how the hush money could be a campaign finance violation when Trump “was sitting in the Oval Office” when he reimbursed Cohen for the payments to Daniels. She discredited the case altogether, saying that “it makes no sense on its face, which is probably why it’s intentionally vague.”  

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who represented Trump in his first impeachment trial, appeared on the show shortly after, choosing to defend Trump by asking, “Would anybody in the history of the world ever pay hush money if they knew they had to honestly disclose it?”