US prosecutors Monday opposed a bid by Donald Trump to have television cameras broadcast his trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, saying the former president wants to turn it into a “media event”.
Trump’s lawyers, in a filing last week with US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is to preside over the trial, asked that it be televised live.
“President Trump absolutely agrees, and in fact demands, that these proceedings should be fully televised so that the American public can see first hand that this case, just like others, is nothing more than a dreamt-up unconstitutional charade that should never be allowed to happen again,” they said.
“Every person in America, and beyond, should have the opportunity to study this case firsthand and watch as, if there is a trial, President Trump exonerates himself of these baseless and politically motivated charges,” they said.
The prosecution “wishes to continue this travesty in darkness,” they added. “President Trump calls for sunlight.”
Special Counsel Jack Smith urged the judge to reject Trump’s request to televise the trial, calling it a “transparent effort to demand special treatment, try his case in the courtroom of public opinion, and turn his trial into a media event.”
Trump is seeking to “create a carnival atmosphere from which he hopes to profit by distracting, like many fraud defendants try to do, from the charges against him,” Smith said.
“The Court should reject this attempted distraction and deny the applications.”
A number of US media outlets have also asked the judge to allow a live broadcast of what they called a “historic and unprecedented prosecution.”
Federal criminal trials are generally not televised in the United States and it is not clear that Chutkan has the authority to allow it even if she was inclined to do so.
At a pre-trial hearing in August, the judge said she would seek to prevent a “carnival atmosphere of unchecked publicity and trial by media.”
Cameras have not been allowed so far in the downtown Washington courtroom for the pre-trial hearings in the case.
Other legal woes
Trump was indicted for seeking to upend the results of the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden in a concerted effort that led to the violent January 6, 2021 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.
The twice-impeached former president is also accused of seeking to disenfranchise American voters with his false claims that he won the November 2020 election.
Chutkan has set March 4, 2024 for the start of the trial, which could interfere with Trump’s campaign to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump and his sons Eric and Don Jr are currently facing a civil fraud trial in New York, accused of inflating the value of their real estate assets to receive more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.
Trump also faces federal charges for alleged mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House and has been charged with racketeering in Georgia for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in the southern state.