Europe

Trump Asks Judge to Televise Federal Election Trial

Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump have told a judge that she should permit his trial on federal charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election to be televised live from the courtroom.

It was the first time that Mr. Trump has formally weighed in on the issue of whether to broadcast any of the four criminal trials he is facing. His motion to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is overseeing the federal election trial in Washington, came after similar requests made by several media organizations and was filed late on Friday.

A judge in Georgia who is handling Mr. Trump’s state election subversion case has said that proceeding will be televised. But the request to Judge Chutkan is likely to face an uphill battle given that federal rules of criminal procedure — and the Supreme Court — generally prohibit cameras in federal courtrooms.

Mr. Trump’s motion for a televised trial came in a filing adopting his bombastic and combative style.

In the motion, his lawyers argued that a televised trial was needed because the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, had “sought to proceed in secret” with the election case, even though the prosecution has attracted enormous attention from the news media, had several public hearings and had countless rounds of court papers filed on a public docket.

The lawyers also used the motion to complain, as they have at almost every opportunity, that Mr. Trump has been treated “unfairly” by the Biden administration even though the election case — and another federal case in which Mr. Trump stands accused of mishandling classified documents — have been overseen by Mr. Smith, an independent prosecutor.

It is little surprise that Mr. Trump, a former reality television star, would want to have the trial broadcast live from Federal District Court in Washington.

As his testimony this past week in his civil fraud trial in New York has shown, he has opted to pursue a strategy of creating noisy conflict to obscure the legal issues underpinning his cases and to use the proceedings to amplify the message of victimhood and grievance that sits at the heart of his re-election campaign.

Mr. Trump’s Friday night filing to Judge Chutkan was a sharp turn from his stance on the issue last week when prosecutors told Judge Chutkan, at his request, in their filing that his lawyers were taking “no position” on televising the trial.

In that filing, prosecutors working for Mr. Smith also told Judge Chutkan that televising the trial was “clearly foreclosed” by federal rules.

The prosecutors acknowledged that the public and the media had “a constitutional right of access” to the trial. But that, they claimed, was “the right to attend a criminal trial — not the right to broadcast it.”

Mr. Trump’s filing ignored these arguments and instead relied on his usual mix of bluster and belligerence.

“In sum,” his lawyers wrote, “President Trump absolutely agrees, and in fact demands, that these proceedings should be fully televised so that the American public can see firsthand that this case, just like others, is nothing more than a dreamt-up unconstitutional charade that should never be allowed to happen again.”

Related Articles

Back to top button