CNN legal analyst Elie Honig warned during a media appearance on Tuesday that recent polling on whether Americans believe Donald Trump acted “illegally” in his efforts to remain president should “alarm” prosecutors.
On “CNN This Morning,” host Poppy Harlow asked Honig about polling that found 45% of Americans believed Trump acted illegally in his efforts to remain president in 2020. She added 32% said he acted unethically, but not illegally, and 23% believed he did nothing wrong.
“Why does that give you pause?” Harlow asked.
“That terrifies me from a prosecutor’s point of view, because you look at a number like, 45% think one of the major parties did something illegal, politically, normal humans, you go, wow, that’s a lot. Prosecutor, I’m thinking you need 12 jurors unanimous, beyond a reasonable doubt. I mean run the math on that, right? If you have a 50/50-ish split in how many people think he did something illegal, and you need all 12 of them,” Honig said.
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“Now, that said, the jury pools in Manhattan and D.C. lean anti-Trump, I mean, Trump got 5% of the vote in D.C. and 12% of the vote in Manhattan, so it may not be the same sample. But that number would alarm me as a prosecutor,” he added.
Honig predicted earlier in the segment that Fani Willis’ case against Trump would not be tried before the 2024 election, due to scandals related to her personal relationship with one of the prosecutors. He said they were likely to get the Manhattan case against Trump before the election, but added that the federal case headed by Special Counsel Jack Smith regarding Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 had a 50/50 chance of going to trial before the election.
The same CNN poll found that 48% of Americans believe it’s essential that a ruling be handed down in Jack Smith’s election interference investigation prior to the 2024 election. Sixteen percent said they would prefer a ruling before the election.
“While the federal election subversion case, Jack Smith’s D.C. case, does probably have the power to swing some votes, we’ve seen other polling showing it could swing 6%, 7%, 8%, I wonder what the percentage would be when it comes to the Manhattan D.A.’s hush money case. The way the calander is coming into focus now, Jack Smith’s case is pushed off, no longer scheduled for March 4th, sort of suspended indefinitely,” Honig noted.
He suggested pollsters ask about the hush money case against Trump and whether that would affect how they vote.
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Trump pleaded not guilty in April 2023 after being charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
The charges, which are related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign, came out of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s years-long investigation.
Bragg alleged that Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”
Trump’s trial stemming from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s 2020 election interference investigation has been delayed indefinitely.
Washington, D.C., federal Judge Tanya Chutkan formally vacated the March 4 trial date on Friday, and said the court will “set a new schedule if and when the mandate is returned.”
A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled against Trump’s claim of presidential immunity from prosecution for his actions in office.
Trump has up to 90 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Jake Gibson, Bill Mears and Lawrence Richard contributed to this report.
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