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House Democrats call for live broadcasts of court proceedings in Trump criminal cases

The letter was sent the same day that Trump was arraigned at the federal courthouse in Washington during a court proceeding that was not televised or livestreamed.
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WASHINGTON — More than three dozen House Democrats are calling on the policymaking body for federal courts to permit live broadcasting of court proceedings in the Justice Department's cases charging former President Donald Trump with federal crimes.

In a letter led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who served on the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Democrats asked that the Judicial Conference "explicitly authorize the broadcasting of court proceedings in the cases of United States of America v. Donald J. Trump."

"It is imperative the Conference ensures timely access to accurate and reliable information surrounding these cases and all of their proceedings, given the extraordinary national importance to our democratic institutions and the need for transparency," the lawmakers wrote in the letter, sent Thursday to Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the secretary of the Judicial Conference.

Image: Donald Trump, Todd Blanche, Jack Smith
This artist sketch shows former President Donald Trump, right, conferring with defense lawyer Todd Blanche during his appearance at the federal courthouse in Washington on Thursday. Special counsel Jack Smith sits at left.Dana Verkouteren / AP

The letter, whose signatories also included other members who served on the former Jan. 6 committee, noted that the Judicial Conference has "historically supported increased transparency and public access to the courts’ activities."

"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 letter said. "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."

The letter was sent on the same day that Trump was arraigned at the federal courthouse in Washington during a proceeding that was not televised or livestreamed. He pleaded not guilty to four federal counts over his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which led to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Federal prosecutors filed the grand jury indictment Tuesday.

Trump's next court hearing in the case is set for Aug. 28. A trial date has not yet been set.

The former president, meanwhile, is set to go on trial in May in the Justice Department's case that charged him in a 37-count indictment in June over his alleged mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House. That trial will be held in Florida. He also pleaded not guilty to those charges. Trump was charged with additional counts in the case last week.