Why Democrats are calling for Trump’s trial to be televised

Although it’s unusual for a federal proceeding to be televised, Democrats are pushing for Mr Trump’s trial to be aired, ‘given the historic nature of the charges’

Kelly Rissman
Friday 04 August 2023 11:14 EDT
Former Trump official claims Melania is 'too busy' to attend arraignment

Former President Donald Trump was charged with four criminal counts connected to the events leading up to January 6 and his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, to which he pleaded not guilty on Thursday at his arraignment.

This is the third time the former president has been arraigned in a matter of months.

The next steps in this historic case are less clear, as both sides will be able to request a trial date. If what’s past is prologue, Mr Trump will likely try to push the trial start date until after the 2024 election, as he attempted to do in the classified documents case.

Here’s what we know.

When is Mr Trump’s trial?

On Thursday, Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya set the date for the former president’s next hearing at 28 August at 10am.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is expected to preside over the case, asked the government to formally file a requested trial date and to estimate the length of their case by 10 August, while she gave Mr Trump’s legal team until 17 August.

But Mr Trump’s schedule is complicated; the trial date has to avoid coinciding with his presidential campaign dates as well as other potential hearings in his other criminal cases.

For example, Mr Trump, the 2024 GOP frontrunner, has an opportunity to participate in the first Republican primary debate days earlier on 23 August – however, he has repeatedly signaled that he will not attend.

Also in Georgia, a potential indictment looms as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to announce charging decisions this month.

In the New York City case in which Mr Trump is accused of falsifying business records, Justice Juan Merchan scheduled the trial start date as 24 March 2024 – just three weeks after Super Tuesday.

In the classified documents case, his first federal indictment, US District Judge Aileen Cannon set 20 May 2024 as the trial start date.

Earlier this month, before the trial date was set, Mr Trump’s team pushed for the classified documents case trial to be postponed until after the 2024 election; he is likely to make the same request for his most recent federal indictment as well.

Will the January 6 trial be televised?

Federal court proceedings are rarely televised.

But Democrats are pushing for the trial to be televised; they wrote a letter on Thursday to Judge Roslynn Mauskopf, the director of the Administrative Office of the US Courts.

The letter, led by Rep Adam Schiff and signed by 37 other Democratic lawmakers, pressed that the trial be shown “unfiltered, to the public.”

The letter asks for the trial to be broadcasted, as it “ensures timely access to accurate and reliable information,” emphasising “the extraordinary national importance to our democratic institutions and the need for transparency.”

“Given the historic nature of the charges brought forth in these cases, it is hard to imagine a more powerful circumstance for televised proceedings,” the Democrats 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.”

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