Trump court cases look like ‘pile-on’ to some Americans, CNN legal analyst admits

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CNN legal analyst Elie Honig observed on Thursday that some Americans “in the middle” feel the many criminal indictments and civil lawsuits against Donald Trump are starting to feel like a “pile-on” against the former president.

Panelists on “CNN This Morning” discussed Judge Lewis Kaplan’s threat on Wednesday to bar Trump from the courtroom during the civil trial regarding E. Jean Carroll’s allegations of sexual assault against the former president. Former Republican strategist Lee Carter said Trump’s defiant response to the threat and his overall message of, “he’s willing to fight back,” was very effective. 

Honig said there was also a group of people in the middle that say it’s starting to feel like overkill.

“I think there’s a group in the middle as well, to Lee’s point, that looks at this and just says, ‘OK, when he says it’s a pile-on, it starts to feel like that at a certain point.’ I’m not saying any of these cases individually are unjustified. But when you look at someone who, in the course of 18 months or so, has been charged with four criminal indictments, at least three major civil suits, including E. Jean Carroll now twice, dozens of these 14th Amendment challenges, which I think are all about to crash and burn and be rejected by the Supreme Court, you can understand how people can’t keep it straight,” he said.

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“But it does play into his hand, it’s like a jujitsu move by Donald Trump. You use the other person’s momentum against them to say, this is a pile-on,” he added. 

“And you’re saying, this is a former federal prosecutor who know what it takes to go after someone, and you’re saying, this many cases of this magnitude, in this period of time,” CNN host Poppy Harlow added.

Honig agreed and added that the mass of cases against Trump plays into the former president’s effective messaging. 

“Yeah and again, you can look at any of these cases, and I can absolutely defend the criminal charges, I can absolutely defend the civil cases. I don’t think it’s necessarily anyone’s fault, but I think when you take them all, the mass of them, I do think it plays into the point Lee and Leah have been making,” he said. 

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Kaplan admonished Trump for his audible reactions to Carroll’s testimony in front of the jury, and threatened that Trump could be barred from the trial if he continued. 

Trump was heard saying “that’s not true,” “it’s a witch hunt” and “it really is a con job” during Carroll’s testimony.

“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial,” Kaplan said in an exchange after the jury was excused for lunch, adding, “I understand you’re probably eager for me to do that.”

“I would love it,” Trump responded from the defense table. 

The former president, fresh off a landslide win in the Iowa caucuses, was recently endorsed by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he continues to consolidate GOP support. Trump has maintained a steady, large lead in polling over his GOP rivals and remains the frontrunner to capture the 2024 nomination.

Fox News’ Stephen Sorace, Eric Shawn, and Maria Paronich contributed to this report.

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