Trump hired Natalee Holloway’s suspected killer’s lawyer to defend him in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case

Joe Tacopina.

Joe Tacopina was once called “the most hated lawyer in New York” by the New York Post.Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

  • Trump hired one of the most famous criminal defense attorneys to represent him against E. Jean Carroll.

  • Joe Tacopina’s former clients include the rapper Meek Mill and Natalee Holloway’s suspected killer.

  • Carroll has accused Trump of sexual battery and defamation.

Former President Donald Trump has hired a famous lawyer to defend accused murderers, rapists, and fraudsters to represent him as he gears up to face his rape accuser in court.

According to court documents filed Tuesday, Trump has hired powerhouse attorney Joe Tacopina, and two other lawyers from Tacopina’s New York City firm, to represent him in a lawsuit brought by former Elle advice columnist E. Jean Carroll alleging sexual battery and defamation.

Carroll claims Trump raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. Trump has firmly denied the allegation.

Tacopina declined to comment when Insider reached out to him about the news on Tuesday. It’s unclear whether Tacopina’s firm is replacing Trump’s lawyers Alina Habba and Michael Madaio on the case. As of Tuesday, Habba and Madaio were still listed as attorneys representing Trump. Habba did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Tuesday.

The New York Post once described Tacopina as possibly “the most hated lawyer in New York” for his penchant for taking on defendants in high-profile cases — from Natalee Holloway’s suspected killer Joran van der Sloot to ex-NYPD Officer Kenneth Moreno, who was accused of raping a drunken woman in her East Village apartment. He secured an acquittal for Moreno.

“He’s slick, he’s got a big ego, and he’ll represent any scumbag,” one prosecutor told the Post in 2011.

Tacopina told the Post that he has no issues defending accused criminals.

“Have I represented people I believe are guilty? Absolutely. But people who have made mistakes in their lives are entitled to a defense, too,” he said. “Prosecutors are overcharged. Sometimes people do deserve a break. The system is based on us challenging the government. I’ve also represented my share of purely innocent people, and that scared me.”

He’s also taken on celebrity clients including Victoria Gotti, daughter of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti; the rapper Meek Mill; former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez; and Raffaello Follieri, the con-man who famously dated actress Anne Hathaway.

Tacopina once said that high-profile cases drive him to do some of his best work.

In 2005, he told The New York Times that he had a “knack of getting these cases that seemed to be in the limelight and I’ve got to tell you I didn’t dislike it.”

“I get a certain rush of adrenaline knowing your every move is going to be evaluated. I like the high stakes,” Tacopina told the Times.

Correction: January 31, 2023 — A previous version of this story mistakenly said that Tacopina secured an aquittal for Joran van der Sloot. Van der Sloot was never tried for Natalee Holloway’s murder, but remains the primary suspect in the unsolved case. Tacopina helped secure his release from police custody.

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