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CNN, MSNBC Report Live as Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside of Trump Trial Courthouse: ‘An Unbelievably Disturbing Moment Here,’ Says CNN’s Laura Coates

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A man set himself on fire outside the courthouse where the jurors are being chosen for former president Donald Trump‘s hush money criminal trial. CNN‘s chief legal analyst Laura Coates and MSNBC national correspondent Yasmin Vossoughian both witnessed the self-immolation and spoke about the incident live on air.

“I just have to tell you, I have been a student of history for a long time. I cannot overstate the emotional response of watching a human being engulfed in flames and to watch his body be lifted on a gurney,” Coates said on air. “Here we are, knowing that we’re here to document history, but to know about what has just taken place — what an emotional and unbelievably disturbing moment here in Manhattan.”

The man, identified by police as Maxwell Azzarello, of St. Augustine, Florida, was in an area designated for protesters outside the Manhattan courthouse where the jurors and alternates for Trump’s trial were being chosen Friday. According to local news outlets, Azzarello doused himself in accelerant across the street from the courthouse and was quickly covered in flames as bystanders ran away. Police officers rushed over and attempted to put out the fire with an extinguisher, and Azzarello was taken into an ambulance.

Both Coates and Vossoughian were reporting live on their respective networks about the Trump jury, with cameras catching the moment they saw the self-immolation and began to explain what was going on.

Coates at first thought the chaos appeared to be an active shooter, but she quickly corrected herself and reported the man setting himself on fire live. Cameras caught footage of the flames, then turned away to focus on Coates as she spoke.

“We have a man who has set fire to himself,” she said. “A man has emblazoned himself outside of the courthouse just now. Our cameras are turning right now. A man has now lit himself on fire outside of the courthouse in Manhattan while we are waiting for history to be made.”

Vossoughian opened with similar reporting: “There’s a man on fire in the middle the square in front of me,” she said. “It is unbelievable to see. My gosh. He is about 50 feet away from me. He has collapsed on the ground. We have security running to this man to put the flames out.”

Eyewitnesses told outlets that Azzarello threw pamphlets into the air before setting himself on fire. There is not a clear reason why he set himself on fire, and reports indicated Azzarello was still alive but in “critical condition” while in the ambulance.

The 12 jurors and six alternates in Trump’s trial had been chosen, and the court was heading into a break when the man set himself on fire outside. Trump is accused of being part of a large scheme to bury negative press stories about him ahead of the 2016 election, including making hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to cover up alleged affairs. He has denied these claims as he is gearing up for the 2024 presidential election.