A group of House Democrats led by Rep. Adam Schiff of California have demanded that the federal trials of former President Donald Trump be televised, according to a letter they wrote on Thursday.
Trump has been arraigned in two federal criminal cases, one concerning his possession of classified documents after his presidential term expired and the other regarding his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Schiff, who was one of the leaders of the first impeachment of Trump in 2019, led 36 of his colleagues in petitioning the federal judiciary to televise the trial in the public interest, according to the text of the letter released by Schiff.
“Given the historic nature of the charges brought forth in these cases, it is hard to imagine a more powerful circumstance for televised proceedings. 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,” Schiff wrote to U.S. District Judge Roslynn Mauskopf, who is the secretary of the Judicial Conference of the United States, an agency comprised of federal judges that creates rules for the federal judiciary.
Federal courts’ criminal proceedings are prohibited from being photographed or broadcast under Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Supreme Court began broadcasting a live audio stream of oral arguments on its website in 2010.
Were Trump’s trial to be televised and broadcast live, it would likely require an exemption to Rule 53, which has been in place since 1946, and would have to be approved by the whole conference. The conference is chaired by the chief justice of the United States and comprises the chief judge of every appellate circuit, along with some district judges.
“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,” the letter closed. There is no record of any exemption to Rule 53 ever being granted in the U.S. federal judiciary.
A press release on Schiff’s website stated that “The current policy of the Judicial Conference permits judges to authorize broadcasting, televising, recording, or photographing for certain criminal proceedings.” However, no such policy was found on the federal judiciary’s website or the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.
Among the co-signatories to Schiff’s letter were Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who led Trump’s second impeachment in 2021; Barbara Lee of California, who is running against Schiff in the Senate election in 2024; and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Trump is currently leading all major polls in the Republican presidential primary by a wide margin, with 53% support on average, according to RealClearPolitics.
We can’t do this without your help; visit our GiveSendGo page and donate any dollar amount; every penny helps