Trump’s Plan to Skirt Conviction in New York: Blame His Lawyers

If your lawyers advised you to commit a crime, does that exonerate you?

Former President Donald Trump intends to argue this is what happened, and that he is indeed exonerated, in the case of hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels in 2016.

In a court filing publicly released Tuesday, Trump’s attorneys filed notice of their plans to use an “advice of counsel” argument, of sorts, claiming that Trump did not think he was committing a crime because his lawyers were part of the ordeal.

“President Trump intends to elicit evidence concerning the presence, involvement and advice of lawyers in relevant events giving rise to the charges in the Indictment,” the filing said.

The filing goes on to argue that “President Trump lacked the requisite intent to commit the conduct charged in the indictment.”

Trump is no stranger to the “advice of counsel” defense. Rolling Stone reported last fall that Trump’s team plans to use a similar strategy, and will throw Trump acolytes like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman under the bus, should the Jan. 6 election obstruction case overseen by special counsel Jack Smith go to trial.

The New York case, overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, pertains to multiple hush money payments made to former porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 general election to suppress her speaking out about their alleged affair. Former Trump “fixer” and convicted felon Michael Cohen, who was Trump’s personal attorney at the time, is expected to testify in the case.

Attorneys and advisers for Trump previously told Rolling Stone they hope Trump does not speak out once the case gets underway, as it could severely impact the trial slated to begin March 25.

The implications of Trump using the “advice of counsel” argument extends beyond strategy for the defense; for Bragg’s prosecution team, it could allow them to view privileged attorney-client communications. Trump’s attorney’s anticipated this development, writing that “this is not a formal advice-of-counsel” defense, but it will be up to Judge Juan Meacham to decide whether that holds true.

Tuesday’s filing comes the day after Trump’s attorneys requested immunity in the hush money case in light of the Supreme Court’s pending decision as to whether Trump has immunity from prosecution for acts committed while he was in office. The issue making it to the Supreme Court stems from the Justice Department’s election interference case, one of four criminal cases brought against the former president.

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