Special counsel calls out Trump for reversing course on wanting cameras at election fraud trial


Donald Trump (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Donald Trump (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

The special counsel in former President Donald Trump’s election fraud case is calling out the defense for reversing course and making a disingenuous demand for cameras at trial. For example, Trump’s motion on Friday did not mention that the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibiting photography and filming.

Now prosecutors want leave from the judge to make a formal response.

“The defendant’s response did not engage with the relevant Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure or cite any applicable caselaw, and instead made false and incendiary
claims about the administration of his criminal case, United States v. Trump, No. 23-cr-257 (TSC),” Special Counsel Jack Smith wrote in a motion filed Sunday. “The Government requests an opportunity to respond to the defendant’s claims and is prepared to file its proposed reply, which is four pages, immediately upon receiving leave from the Court.”

Smith said the defense is walking back their earlier, neutral stance on cameras in the courtroom.

“On November 3, 2023, the United States filed an opposition to applications of a coalition of media organizations seeking to record and broadcast the criminal trial of Donald J. Trump (‘the defendant’),” he wrote. “ECF No. 16. In advance of that filing, the Government sought the defendant’s position on the applications, and his counsel requested that the Government represent to the Court that he took no position. The Government accurately reported that to the Court. Id. at n.2. On November 10, however, the defendant reversed course and filed a response in support of the applications.”

Trump was indicted in Washington, D.C., earlier this year for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election and is scheduled to go to trial in March 2024. His attorneys on Friday demanded that cameras broadcast the proceedings. In asking this, they are siding with a conglomerate of media entities who want the same.

“The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in darkness. President Trump calls for sunlight,” Trump’s attorney, John F. Lauro, wrote in a five-page petition. “Every person in America, and beyond, should have the opportunity to study this case firsthand and watch as, if there is a trial, President Trump exonerates himself of these baseless and politically motivated charges.”

The filing, however, was virtually bereft of relevant legal arguments as to why the former president’s trial should be televised, a request that would directly violate the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibition on photography and filming in the courthouse. The submission does not mention the federal rule that precludes cameras during proceedings.

The document is, however, brimming with baseless allegations that Trump is being politically persecuted by the Department of Justice at the direction of the Biden administration. The former president also repeatedly alleges — without providing evidence — that President Joe Biden, the Justice Department, and U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan have been intentionally attempting to derail his bid to return to the White House in 2024.

Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.

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