Dozens of House Democrats on Thursday urged the policy-setting body of the federal judiciary to authorize live broadcasts of former President Donald Trump’s upcoming court proceedings as he faces charges stemming from his effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Cameras are usually barred from federal courtrooms, but 38 House Democrats argued in a letter to the Judicial Conference that “given the historic nature of the charges brought forth in these cases, it is hard to imagine a more powerful circumstance for televised proceedings.”
“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,” reads the letter, which was led by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
“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 letter continues. “We urge the conference to take additional steps, including live broadcasting, to ensure the facts of this case are brought forward, unfiltered, to the public.”
Transparency will be crucial in the trials of the U.S. v. Donald J. Trump.
It’s why dozens of my colleagues joined me today in urging that these proceedings be broadcast for the public.
If the American people are to accept the outcome, it will be vitally important for them to… pic.twitter.com/xYY2xuooYd
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 4, 2023
The lawmakers released their letter shortly after Trump appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C. and pleaded not guilty to four felony counts laid out in a 45-page indictment filed earlier this week by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed in November to lead investigations into Trump’s election subversion efforts and the January 6 attack.
The charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States and “conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.”
The first pretrial hearing is set to take place on August 28.
The severity of the charges against Trump—who is seeking the presidency again in 2024—and the trial’s massive implications have led legal experts to make the case for allowing video cameras into the courtroom.
Andrew Weissmann, a former top prosecutor at the Justice Department, toldVanity Fair on Thursday that the decision rests with the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, who is the chair of the Judicial Conference.
“It’s going to be incumbent on the chief justice of the United States to make this trial public,” said Weissmann. “He has the power to do that.”