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Should Trump’s trials be on TV? Some lawmakers think so

Aug 04, 2023

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Thirty-eight House Democrats are calling for cameras in the courtroom during former President Donald Trump’s federal trials. Cameras are not allowed in federal court, so the public has to rely on descriptions and sketches to know what happens.

The lawmakers are asking the Judicial Conference, the policy-making body for federal courts, to authorize cameras for these cases “given the extraordinary national importance to our democratic institutions and the need for transparency.” 

Trump, who is currently the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election, is the defendant in two separate federal cases. He’s accused of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and faces four felony charges.

The trial will take place in Washington, D.C., but has not been scheduled. He’s also facing 40 charges in connection with his storage of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence. That trial is scheduled to begin May 20, 2024, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

The lawmakers 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.”

Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr has called Trump’s actions outrageous and said he doesn’t see how the Republican Party can nominate him for president. However, Barr opposes cameras in the courtroom.

“Our politics and our life is becoming more and more like a reality TV program and everyone’s posturing and political conversations all talking points and so forth. And I’d hate to see that happening more and more in our courts where it’s performance rather than substance,” Barr told PBS NewsHour on Thursday, Aug. 3.

The debate over court access is not new. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation that would allow cameras in federal courts and the Supreme Court. But after years of trying, they have not been able to pass their bills into law.

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