If the Democratic Party gets its way, the Trump criminal trial for an alleged “hush money” scheme would be televised to the American public during the 2024 presidential campaign.
“As the media capital of the world — and the venue for the arraignment of Donald Trump — we must change this outdated law to allow the public to witness trials,” argued state Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan) at a Sunday press conference.
Hoylman-Sigal is sponsoring the bill that would clear the way for the courtroom cameras.
“With a first-of-its-kind trial on the horizon, there’s no time to waste in opening the doors of the courthouse to the media and the American public,” he said.
The New York politician’s proposal was introduced as part of the state’s pending budget plan. It would take effect 90 days after becoming law. Trump’s trial isn’t expected to start for months and a verdict may even be delayed until after the 2024 election.
The trial judge has ultimate say on whether or not to allow cameras in the courtroom, regardless of state law. However, legislation would conceivably bolster the chances they are allowed.
As reported by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Trump’s legal team is arguing that the request for cameras in the courtroom should be denied “because it will create a circus-like atmosphere at the arraignment, raise unique security concerns, and is inconsistent with President Trump’s presumption of innocence,” per letter to Judge Juan Merchan.
Merchan previously oversaw the criminal tax fraud trial against the Trump Organization that resulted in a $1.6 million fine after a conviction on 17 counts, including falsifying business records. Former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in jail as part of a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s office in the case.
Joe Tacopina, the lawyer representing Trump in the case, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he doesn’t believe the judge is biased.
“No, I don’t believe the judge is biased. I mean, the president is entitled to his own opinion,” Tacopina said.
“And what he’s been through, quite frankly, I don’t blame him for feeling the way he feels,” he added. “You’re asking me my opinion. Do I think the judge is biased? Of course not. How could I subscribe to that when I’ve had no interactions with this judge that would lead me to believe he’s biased.”
Trump’s legal team is adding Todd Blanche, it was reported on Monday, leading to speculation that Tacopina was being sidelined.
“I have been asked to represent Trump in the recently charged DA case, and after much thought/consideration, I have decided it is the best thing for me to do and an opportunity I should not pass up,” Blanche reportedly wrote.
Blanche has experience representing key Trump allies, including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, as well as Igor Fruman, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who pleaded guilty in a campaign finance case.
Tacopina, however, refuted the view that he might be relegated to a minor role.
“Yes, of course! And I will be the lead trial lawyer when the bell rings!” he said.
There is concern among Trump’s legal team that the former president would be issued a gag order amid a media circus during campaign season that would prevent the presidential candidate from publicly defending himself.
“If a gag order is issued against Trump, that would mean a presidential candidate wouldn’t be allowed to defend himself from the media’s slander,” BlazeMedia host Glenn Beck argued. “That’s INSANITY.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr said he would not advise Trump to defend himself on the witness stand because he purportedly “lacks all self-control.”
“I’m not his lawyer. Generally, I think it’s a bad idea to go on the stand, and I think it’s a particularly bad idea for Trump, because he lacks all self-control, and it would be very difficult to prepare him and keep him testifying in a prudent fashion,” Barr said.
On Friday, Joe Tacopina was interviewed on “Hannity” about Trump’s prosecution.
“Today the rule of law in America died,” he said. “There is no crime. It’s election interference.”
The Trump attorney also said what could be expected on Tuesday.
“On Tuesday the president will be arraigned,” Sean Hannity said. “We expect a mug shot. We expect the president will have his fingerprints. We expect what? Is he going to be perp walked? Is he going to be in handcuffs? Are they going to try and say he can’t have bail?”
“I don’t think anything dramatic like that is going to happen,” the attorney said. “Even if they tried to that would further solidify the notion he is being so selectively targeted and treated differently than anyone in the world.”
On Monday, Donald Trump departed from Mar-a-Lago to fly to New York City for his arraignment. Trump is expected to arrive at the New York City courthouse at 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, hours before his scheduled arraignment in front of Judge Juan Merchan at 2:15 p.m. The proceedings are expected to take 15 to 30 minutes, and there will be tight security around the building and everyone in the courtroom will be searched twice.
Trump is expected to return to Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday and to deliver a speech at 8:15 p.m. eastern.