I had to put this one at the head of the line. This gem was uttered by Michael Avenetti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, on MSNBC’s “The Beat”. He was referring to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Here is the context:
“I think when push comes to shove he’s going to fold like a cheap deck of cards, I really do,” Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC’s “The Beat” on Monday night. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-s-attorney-michael-cohen-will-fold-cheap-deck-cards-n864241
This is a congruent conflation of “fold like a cheap suitcase” and “fall like a house of cards”, both meaning to collapse easily or a plan that is destined to fail. Regarding the “cheap suitcase” idiom, the Free Dictionary explains: “expensive luggage was made from well-constructed leather or fabric. Cheap ones used to be made of cardboard with little or no structural reinforcement, not very sturdy especially when manhandled by baggage handlers or hotel porters. You also hear “fold like a cheap suit”, but since fabric folds easily, whether it’s cashmere or polyester, “suitcase” presents a better connotation of a losing proposition.”
Mr. Avenatti’s is particularly sweet, as he combines the image of a cheap deck of cards with folding. A poker player with a losing hand would certainly fold but “like a cheap suitcase”, although I suppose there are cheap enough cards out there that bend easily. Casinos would not use them.
I think the mashup was also caused by the word “suit” in the proper idiom, with the speaker associating “suit” with “cards”. A big thanks to Jim Kozlowski for spotting this one first and sending it in. I had many people send it in as well, but Jim was the first so he gets the malaphor kudo.