On ‘SNL,’ James Austin Johnson’s Trump laments legal team amid court battles

Former President Donald Trump appears to be running away with the Republican nomination for the White House, but his legal woes have shown him as less of a frontrunner and more of a man in need of solid legal counsel.

“Saturday Night Live” made light of Trump’s courtroom challenges by focusing on critical responses to the performance of his attorney, Alina Habba, in this week’s Manhattan federal court trial that will determine damages for his defamation of author E. Jean Carroll.

In real-life proceedings, Habba’s skills in court were lambasted by Judge Lewis Kaplan, who said upon her inquiry about Carroll’s income, “Come on, this is Evidence 101!”

In Studio 8H on Saturday, Habba, played by “SNL” cast member Chloe Fineman, was humbled: “I am new at this, and I am learning.”

James Austin Johnson portrayed his meandering and mostly unaffected Trump in the sketch.

The former president, after multiple days in court for matters including how he characterized his assets for bank loans to his role in attempts to thwart certification of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, said he had run out of good lawyers.

“Bottom of the barrel,” he said of those able to defend him amid the likelihood of nonpayment.

And, noting Kaplan’s real-life admonishment of Trump for his unfiltered remarks during the trial, Austin Johnson’s version vowed to respect the court. “I will not be saying the judge is an idiot,” he said.

The former president admitted in the sketch that his shot at a second presidential term depended on a demographic of voter that’s at its twilight. “We just need ’em to stay alive till November,” he said.

“Just pull that lever and drop dead,” he added.

In a pop cultural moment of crossed lightning bolts, Rachel McAdams, who portrayed the lead bully, Regina George, in the 2004 movie “Mean Girls,” introduced the night’s musical guest, Reneé Rapp, who portrays the character in the film’s 2024 musical adaptation.

The comedy showcase also looked the horror of Alaska Airlines flight 1282 in the face and found some laughs. The flight was about 10 minutes old and over the Portland region on Jan. 5 when a panel known as a door plug blew out and the aircraft, with passengers traveling from Portland, Oregon, to Southern California, experienced explosive decompression. No one was seriously injured.

While federal investigators have focused on fastening hardware used on the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft, “SNL” focused on the woes of Alaska Airlines by imagining a television spot that seeks to assure travelers the airline is safe — and entertaining.

“Here at Alaska, safety is our number one concern,” the night’s host, big-screen actor Jacob Elordi, said in the would-be TV spot while portraying an Alaska crew member.

“Our new slogan is, ‘Alaska Airlines: You didn’t die, and you got a cool story,’” said cast member Heidi Gardner, dressed as a fellow crew member.

The television spot had more reassuring words, however, informing travelers that its planes would be cohesive aircraft: “You know those bolts that, like, hold the plane together?” Elordi asked. “We’re going to go ahead and tighten some of those.” 

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