Trump’s legal team asks for federal election subversion trial to be televised

Nov 12, 2023, 3:02 PM

Former President Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Houston on Nov. 2.
(Brandon Bell, Getty I...

Former President Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Houston on Nov. 2. (Brandon Bell, Getty Images)

(Brandon Bell, Getty Images)

Editor’s note: CNN’s Devan Cole, Holmes Lybrand, Ali Main and Alayna Treene contributed to this report.

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump’s legal team has formally told a federal court that he would like his election subversion trial in Washington, DC, to be televised.

Court rules do not allow for broadcasting of federal proceedings, and the Justice Department is opposed to allowing cameras. Several media outlets have asked the court to consider allowing cameras at the historic trial, set for March.

“President Trump absolutely agrees, and in fact demands, that these proceedings should be fully televised,” his attorneys wrote in the filing late Friday night.

The filing included several of Trump’s criticisms that his case is illegitimate and that he is being deprived of his rights, and argued to the court that a televised trial would allow him to overcome the unfairness of the justice system because the public would watch it.

Everybody in the world to see it

Speaking at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Saturday, Trump said he wants the trial to be seen by “everybody in the world.”

“I want everybody to see all of the horrible things that took place, all of the horrible charges … and let’s let the public decide because I want cameras in every inch of that courthouse,” he said.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s office on Sunday indicated Trump’s legal team misled prosecutors on the issue, writing in a filing that the former president’s lawyers previously said they had no position on cameras in the courtroom.

Prosecutors wrote that the Trump team’s response did not follow the correct procedure or cite applicable case law, “and instead made false and incendiary claims about the administration of his criminal case. … The Government requests an opportunity to respond to the defendant’s claims.”

In a long-shot attempt, a group of media organizations, including CNN, in October asked the federal judge overseeing the case, Tanya Chutkan, for permission to broadcast the trial given its historic nature. In a separate petition to the judge, NBCUniversal Media argued that the long-standing rule against cameras in federal criminal trials, which dates to the 1940s, is outdated and would violate the First Amendment if strictly enforced in the Trump case.

Media: significant public interest

The media outlets argued there is significant public interest in allowing the trial to be broadcast, positing that video coverage would help undermine conspiracy theories surrounding the case.

Smith, who brought the case, opposes televising the federal election subversion trial.

Prosecutors wrote in a filing last week that federal courts are expressly prohibited from allowing proceedings in a courtroom from being broadcast or even photographed and that although the public was allowed to access some proceedings through teleconferences during the Covid-19 pandemic, the exception ended in September for criminal trials.

The former president’s trial is scheduled for March 4.

Trump faces four counts in the case, including conspiring to defraud the United States and to obstruct an official proceeding. The former president has pleaded not guilty.

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Trump’s legal team asks for federal election subversion trial to be televised