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Donald Trump asks judge for live TV coverage of election interference trial

Former President Donald Trump wants his 2020 election interference trial in Washington to be televised, his lawyers say in a new legal filing.

While federal court rules prohibit the broadcast of criminal and civil proceedings, a coalition of media companies, including the Associated Press, ABC News and Washington Posthave requested to record Trump’s criminal trial scheduled for March 4. (The 2024 Republican frontrunner faces three other criminal cases in New York, Florida and Georgia.)

“Since the founding of our Nation,” the media group said in an audiovisual access request filed in court in October, “we have never had a criminal case in which it would be more important to ‘obtain public trust only with United States v. Donald J. Trump.»

“For its benefit, as well as that of the Court and the public, real-time audiovisual coverage will be a crucial step in stemming false conspiracy theories throughout the public opinion, whatever the outcome of the trial . »

On Friday, Trump’s lawyer submitted documents supporting the media’s request to provide live coverage and reiterating his claims that the 2020 election was rigged and his lawsuits were politically motivated to sabotage his 2024 campaign.

“The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in the dark,” Trump’s lawyers argued. “President Trump calls for sunlight. Every person in America and beyond should have the opportunity to study this matter for themselves and watch, if there is a trial, President Trump clear himself of these baseless and politically motivated accusations. »

They concluded that the court should allow the broadcast “to ensure that the American public can see the plain truth of this matter, witness the wrongdoing of the Biden administration, and hear all of the evidence regarding an election that President Trump considers to be faked and stolen.

The Justice Department opposes the request. In a court filing on Nov. 3, U.S. Special Prosecutor Jack Smith wrote: “The fact that the trial is open to the public and the media, who can ‘attend, listen and report’ to the general public, fully satisfies to the constitutional law of justice. to access.”

Smith, a veteran war crimes prosecutor, also argued that court cameras could impact the “truth-seeking function of the court” and “affect witnesses, jurors and lawyers in subtle ways “.

“Not only will participants be aware of the fact that they are being televised,” Smith continued, “but in today’s world, a broadcast is not limited to television, and recording does not exist for a moment but, for all intents and purposes, indefinitely.”

“When the image of a witness is captured on video,” he writes, “it is not just an ephemeral image, but it exists indefinitely. Along with the ever-increasing acrimony of public discourse, witnesses and others appearing on video may face threats and harassment.

“If there was an appeal and a new trial, witnesses who were subjected to intense scrutiny and harassment on social media might not want to testify again. »

Trump is charged with four counts in the Washington, D.C., case: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstructing and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.

“Despite his defeat, the defendant was determined to remain in power,” the indictment states. “Thus, for more than two months after Election Day on November 3, 2020, the defendant spread lies that there had been voter fraud determinative of the outcome of the election and that he had indeed won. “

Trump’s claims, the government says, inspired a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a failed attempt to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s victory.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued a limited order of silence to prevent Trump from publicly attacking Smith and other officials. “Mr. Trump can certainly claim that he is being unfairly prosecuted, but I cannot imagine any other criminal case in which the defendant is allowed to call the prosecutor ‘deranged’ or ‘thug,'” Chutkan noted in a judgement.

But last week, an appeals court temporarily froze the order ahead of hearings on the issue scheduled for November 20.

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