Speed Reads

Courtroom drama

Trump's weirdly interconnected legal team is 'like Succession' or a '6-season Netflix show,' CNN marvels

Former President Donald Trump added a third lawyer to his defense team on Monday, a day before he surrenders for arrest and arraignment in Manhattan. The new attorney, Todd Blanche, will work with the unlikely pair of Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina to defend Trump against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's charges, expected to center on falsifying business records to hide hush-money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels. 

Each lawyer has their own history with Trump and his associates: Blanche represents Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn and was former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's lawyer in his Manhattan mortgage fraud case. Nacheles represented the Trump Organization in the felony tax fraud case it lost to Bragg last year in front of Judge Juan Merchan, also expected to preside over Trump's upcoming hush money trial. Tacopina, whose clients have included Michael Jackson, Alex Rodriguez, and Sean Hannity, is Trump's lawyer in a federal lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll, who is accusing Trump of raping her in a department store in the mid-1990s. Tacopina has also represented Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is engaged to Donald Trump Jr.

But that's just scratching the surface of the shifting ties and feuds in the "merry-go-round of lawyers around Trump," law enforcement analyst John Miller said on CNN Monday night. "John, are you making this up?" host Anderson Cooper asked after Miller listed some of the connections. "Anderson, you can't make this up," he replied. 

"That's like a six-season Netflix show," Cooper added as Miller wrapped up his rundown. "Yeah, this is like Succession, the lawyer version, with a little Toxic added," Miller said. "There is no soap opera that can measure up with the drama of the Manhattan legal world," legal commentator Elie Honig said, adding another layer to the drama: Tacopina's brief representation of Stormy Daniels (and televised comments about Trump's guilt in the matter).

Yes, "after a brief hiatus, The Trump Show is back," and "new episodes are already on the horizon," Michael M. Grynbaum writes at The New York Times. "Even the supporting cast from The Trump Show heyday is getting into the action": Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, the Trump family. "No matter how sick of Trump we are, we can't take our eyes off him," says University of Southern California media expert Martin Kaplan. "Especially if it looks like the clown car might crash."