Donald Trump trial: CNN anchors horrified on live TV as man sets himself on fire outside court

Warning: Graphic content.

A CNN camera crew was filming live as a man set himself on fire outside former US President Donald Trump’s criminal trial on Friday afternoon, prompting anchor Laura Coates to frantically pivot and react to the horrifying sight in real time.

Police have said the man involved was apparently deep into conspiracy theories, with the incident unfolding just metres away from the New York courthouse where the judge and legal teams in Mr Trump’s hush money trial were finalising the jurors for the high profile case.

“We have a man who has set fire to himself, our cameras are turning right now, a man has now lit himself on fire outside of the courthouse,” Coates said live on-air, pressing a finger to her earpiece as the cameras shifted focus to the man, who was seen engulfed in flames less than 20 metres away.

The incident happened shortly after a full jury panel had been selected in Trump’s historic hush money trial.

Coates did her best to describe her reaction to the shocking display, rattling off her observations stream-of-consciousness style.

“There is chaos that is happening. People are wondering right now if people are in danger. I’m looking right now across the courtyard, there is a man racing to his aid, there are coats coming off to try to put out the fire. We have members of security details, NYPD is rushing to the scene, a fire extinguisher is right now present,” Coates said as the scene unfolded.

“We can smell the air, I can smell the burning of some sort of flesh, of some sort of agent to put out that fire. I see a person whose body appears to be on the ground surrounded by officers. The fire is still burning.”

Police said the man involved was 37-year-old Max Azzarello from St Augustine, a town on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Mr Azzarello is alive but in a “life threatening condition”.

Once inside the park, which was surrounded by barricades for Trump’s trial, Mr Azzarello took off his jacket, dumped what cops believe was an alcohol-based cleaning accelerant over himself — and then lit himself up.

Just seconds before lighting himself up, Mr Azzarello had reached into a book bag and retrieved a stack of colourful pamphlets that he tossed into the air — including some that linked to a Substack page with the heading, “I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial.”

In a rambling, incoherent 2648-word manifesto posted online prior to the ordeal, Mr Azzarello — who identified himself as an investigative researcher — said he had self-immolated as an “extreme act of protest” over a “totalitarian con” and impending “apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

Mr Azzarello was rushed to Cornell University Hospital’s burns unit where he remained in a critical condition as of Friday afternoon, local time, police said.

This story originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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