Trump is not just a media trickster.
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Two days after a federal grand jury accused Donald Trump of three conspiracies in his attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, culminating in the January 6, 2021, uprising, 38 Democratic members of Congress requested that the U.S Judicial Conference air Trump’skas federal trials be televised.
Be cautious, Democrats. John Lauro, the Trump attorney, expressed his willingness to see a televised trial for his client in early January, as it may lead to undue pressure on jurors and potentially result in their exoneration.
Two federal indictments have been filed against Trump. One of the charges against him includes concealing, withholding, and mishandling classified documents with national defense information. The other case filed on August 1 alleges that Trump conspired to defraud the United States, to obstruct an official proceeding,and against the right to vote.
The congressmen wrote to the Judicial Conference, highlighting the exceptional national significance of our democratic institutions and advocating for transparency, as well as full public acceptance of the verdicts, including the credibility of witnesses.
The act of broadcasting the House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol is one thing, but it’s another thing to watch Trump’ pending criminal trials.
The January 6 Committee hearings were designed to inform the public about Trump’s actions that led to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. The purpose of a criminal trial is for judicial decision-making, not to educate the populace.
Federal Courts Disallow Televised Trials.
Despite the fact that federal trials cannot be broadcasted on television, some commentators have called for rule changes to allow cameras in Trump’s conspiracy trial.
There are only two options to allow Trump’s trials in federal court. One would require the Judicial Conference, chaired by Chief Justice John Roberts, to amend Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 or another requiring Congress to pass a law allowing trials to be broadcast. Neither of those options will likely be pursued, as Congress is unable to agree on virtually anything.
State courts are not subject to federal law, and each court has its own rules. For instance, Trump is facing charges in New York state court for allegedly providing false business records to conceal his affair with Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. An indictment in a Georgia state jail for election interference will reportedly be filed in mid-August.
The laws governing the transmission of trials are subject to variation among states.
The televised trials are only prohibited in nonfederal jurisdictions like New York, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia. Senate Bill S160 was introduced on January 4, which would allow trials to be broadcast with judicial discretion. Unless it is adopted by the Assembly (which is not certain), and signed by governor before Trump’s trial, it will not be aired.
A grand jury in Fulton County is examining charges against Trump for his attempts to overturn the election, including pressure on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory in that state. District Attorney Fani T. Willis will reportedly issue a charging decision by August 18.
Georgia law permits the use of television cameras in criminal trials, except for cases involving minors. If Trump is charged and tried in Georgia, his case will always be televised.
What are the drawbacks of granting Trump more TV time?
Christina Bellantoni, the media director of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at University of Southern California, cautions that broadcasting Trump’s trials could lead to negative feedback on his public opinion ratings, regardless of evidence.
The jury would be cognizant of the necessity to clarify a guilty verdict to Trump supporters in their neighborhoods who have witnessed his behavior on television.
David Dow and I observed in our book, Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice, that lawyers utilized a camera to embellish their arguments, argue unnecessarily, prolong the investigation of witnesses, and perform “perform for the camera” during O.J. Simpson’s televised criminal trial.
Televising Trump’s trials would provide him with a unique opportunity to appeal to the cameras and his supporters, distracting them from their duty to impartially evaluate evidence.
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