Jack Smith, special counsel from the Justice Department and prosecutor in two of Trump’s ongoing legal cases, has warned that live streaming the former president’s election interference case would “create a carnival atmosphere” that Trump wants.
Smith Calls Out Trump’s Intentions
Smith filed a four-page document in which he called Trump’s plans to broadcast his trial “a transparent effort to demand special treatment, try his case in the courtroom of public opinion, and turn his trial into a media event.”
Currently, the public broadcasting of courtroom trials has been banned since 1946. Though some pilot programs have entertained the idea of recording equipment being allowed into civil proceedings, this has not been considered for criminal trials.
Various news outlets and publications are hoping to stream Trump’s D.C. trial due to its exceptional historic importance. They have argued that preventing this would be a violation of the First Amendment and that the live footage could be helpful in disputing any subsequent conspiracy theories that circulate post-trial.
The Georgia Trial
Unlike the federal election interference case, Trump’s trial over his election tampering in Georgia is a state case and therefore can be broadcast. It has already been confirmed that this trial will be broadcast when it eventually goes ahead, though a trial date has not yet been set.
Initially, Trump stayed neutral on whether his D.C. case should be televised, but he has since filed a motion to Judge Tanya Chutkan requesting that it be broadcast. His lawyers have cited Trump being supposedly “unfairly” treated by the current Biden administration as the reason why a televised trial is necessary.
Trump’s lawyers have declared that “President Trump absolutely agrees and in fact, demands, that these proceedings should be fully televised.” If successful, the filing would not set any legal precedent on whether to record future criminal cases.
“A Dreamt-Up, Unconstitutional Charade”
The lawyers added that such a broadcast is needed so that the “American public can see firsthand that this case, just like others, is nothing more than a dreamt-up, unconstitutional charade that should never be allowed to happen again.”
Smith has dismissed Trump’s protestations about fairness, instead suggesting that “what he actually seeks is to defy a uniform and longstanding prohibition that was crafted precisely with fair and orderly trial proceedings in mind.”
Facilitating a Distraction
He then elaborated that Trump “desires to create a carnival atmosphere from which he hopes to profit by distracting, like many fraud defendants try to do, from the charges against him.” He warned that Trump and his lawyers “design” their in-court statements to “wage a public relations campaign,” and that the court should “avoid the spectacle.”
Social Media Threats
Trump took to Truth Social in retaliation, proclaiming that Smith was one of many “Radical Left Zealots and Thugs who have been working illegally for years to ‘take me down’” before vowing to have Smith locked up in a mental institution by the end of his second presidential term.
The Pending Trial
The election interference case is currently set to begin on March 4, 2024. Trump is also currently running for re-election and is the frontrunner to be the Republican Party nominee, with other contenders trailing behind in the polls.
People online have weighed in on whether they think a trial livestream should go ahead. Though many have expressed disagreement with the idea, others have suggested potential alternatives. “Record it, release the footage after the verdict,” one commenter proposed.
“I love this idea,” one person agreed. “Transparency doesn’t need to be real-time. Talking heads analyzing every second of the trial as it happens would be a disaster,” they explained. Another concurred: “Absolutely, do not give him the power to turn to the camera and directly address his followers from the courtroom.”
Live Broadcast Risks
They continued: “We’ve already seen in the debates that he will use every opportunity to publicly signal loyalty to his militiamen and to use the public forum as a bat signal for fascist goons.” Another poster insisted: “This criminal should not be allowed to make his trial a circus.”
Misleading the Public
Several people accused Trump of misleading the public by insinuating that his trial not being broadcast would be an exception rather than the rule, thus framing himself as a victim of injustice. One forum user stated: “He’s doing this to claim the trial is being hidden from the public. It’s already prohibited.”
Others were torn between the potential benefits and consequences of Trump’s trial being livestreamed. One contributor said: “If the judge does their job it would be great. Make him follow the rules,” but added that “if he’s allowed to do whatever he wants” and the judge enables Trump to make a spectacle of the trial, it should not be allowed.
Calling Trump’s Bluff
One commenter felt that Trump was bluffing, declaring that “he wouldn’t want anyone seeing him unscripted and his guilt. He is just using this because he knows it won’t happen and wants to claim the government doesn’t want you to see their corruption. Plus he then gets to spin what occurred.”
A Bad Idea
Overall, the forum members felt that giving Trump his own live broadcast would be a bad idea, with one commenter noting that they should not give the “man who has on countless occasions directed his cult to violence a TV mini-series.”