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Dozens of House Democrats Push for Trump Trials to Be Televised

The lawmakers argue the extraordinary nature of the cases makes it crucial for the public to see the facts “unfiltered.”

Former president Donald Trump arrives at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. on August 3, 2023, before appearing at E. Barrett Prettyman United States Court House.

A group of over three dozen Democrats is pushing for former President Donald Trump’s trials in cases brought against him by the Justice Department to be televised, citing the national significance and politicized nature of the cases.

On Thursday, Democrats led by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-California), Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia), Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) and Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) urged the Judicial Conference to allow the trials for the cases regarding the 2020 election and the alleged mishandling of classified documents to be televised in order to ensure that the public will accept the outcome.

“It is imperative the Conference ensures timely access to accurate and reliable information surrounding these cases and all of their proceedings, given the extraordinary national importance to our democratic institutions and the need for transparency,” the lawmakers wrote to Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the head of administration for U.S. federal courts.

Although it is common for cameras to be present in state and local court rooms, it is rare for them to be allowed in federal ones. But the lawmakers say that the unique circumstances surrounding the case make it crucial for judicial officials to allow the public to see the facts of the cases “unfiltered,” rather than secondhand through the lens of the media.

“Given the historic nature of the charges brought forth in these cases, it is hard to imagine a more powerful circumstance for televised proceedings,” they wrote. “If the public is to fully accept the outcome, it will be vitally important for it to witness, as directly as possible, how the trials are conducted, the strength of the evidence adduced and the credibility of witnesses.”

The right has already been attempting to spin Trump’s indictments as political witch hunts — on Friday, Trump called for the Supreme Court to “intercede” to stop the various lawsuits against him due to “Radical Left Thugs in numerous courts throughout the Country,” conveniently overlooking that the judge in the documents case has a significant far right bias.

If Trump is found guilty of any of the dozens of charges against him, he will surely try to deny the facts of those cases, just as he has claimed innocence in his attempts to overturn the 2020 election despite his actions and words plainly showing otherwise.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) has also called for the 2020 election trial to be televised, telling reporters on Wednesday that “it’s important to have the trial so the whole country can see it.”

Experts have said that televising the trial would have positive effects on tamping down misinformation around the case, especially in a time when public trust in the judicial system is waning fast.

“Regardless of what the outcome is, whether there’s a conviction or an acquittal, it is going to be really important for the public to see that evidence so that we have faith in the system and people can evaluate the evidence,” Andrew Weissmann, a former top prosecutor during the Mueller investigation, said in Vanity Fair’s podcast, “Inside the Hive.”

“[M]ore access to primary sources is always a positive thing,” Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth told The Washington Post.

But Roth has also said that a televised trial is unlikely, as the Judicial Conference, chaired by Chief Justice John Roberts, would likely not be friendly to the idea. “At least not while Roberts is chief,” Roth said. “There was a lot of arm twisting to get his court to simply do live audio. I think we’re going to have to wait for a regime change for any significant changes in broadcast policy at the Supreme Court and in the lower courts.”