Trump pleads for his election interference trial to be televised

Donald Trump found himself in rare agreement with the mainstream media, pleading in a Friday night legal filing that his blockbuster federal trial for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election be shown live on TV.

“The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in darkness,” the former president’s lawyers wrote. “President Trump calls for sunlight. 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.”

Elsewhere in the filing, Mr Trump’s team reiterated familiar conspiratorial allegations that the special counsel prosecution is part of a “coordinated effort to undermine President Trump’s candidacy” that bears the hallmarks of an “authoritarian regime.”

Following a lengthy special counsel investigation, federal officials charged the former president in August with knowing he lost the 2020 election, but conspiring on a multi-state effort to remain in power nonetheless, including by coordinating slates of false electors. He has pleaded not guilty.

Last week, federal prosecutors said federal courtroom rules “clearly foreclosed” showing the election conspiracy trial on TV, writing that citizens have “the right to attend a criminal trial — not the right to broadcast it.”

Last month, a coalition of national news outlets urged US District Judge Tanya Chutkan to break with tradition and allow TV cameras into the trial, which is scheduled for 4 March.

Media organisations have also called for former president’s trial to be broadcast on TV (AFP via Getty Images)
Media organisations have also called for former president’s trial to be broadcast on TV (AFP via Getty Images)

“It would be a great loss if future generations of Americans were forever deprived of being able to access and view the events of this trial even years after the verdict, which would immeasurably improve the ability of future journalists and historians to retell accurately and meaningfully analyze this unique chapter of American history,” NBC News editorial president Rebecca Blumenstein argued in a legal brief.

A policymaking body of the federal courts system said last month it would study the issue of broadcasting federal trials.

Beginning during the pandemic, the Supreme Court allowed live audio versions of oral arguments for the first time.

At the state level, where rules differ, the public has been able to watch Mr Trump’s Georgia election interference trial.

Photographers, meanwhile, have been allowed inside the courtroom for the former president’s civil fraud trial in New York.