The New Yorker:
The conduct of the trials, their fairness, and their possibly damning verdicts will be at the center of the 2024 election. Transparency is crucial.
Amy Davidson Sorkin
On November 6th, Donald Trump emerged from a New York City courtroom, where he had testified in a civil trial alleging that he and others in the Trump Organization had committed fraud, and gave himself a great review. “I think it went very well,” he told reporters. “If you were there, and you listened, you’d see what a scam this is.” He meant that the case was a scam and not that his company was. “Everybody saw what happened today,” he went on. “And it was very conclusive.”
In truth, everybody didn’t see; the courtroom could seat just a few dozen spectators. There were two overflow rooms, but the closed-circuit feed shown in them went no farther—the trial was not televised. Afterward, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, who was present, said that Trump had hardly put the matter to rest: “he rambled and he hurled insults.” There was a transcript, but, to assess Trump’s demeanor and tone, members of the public had to rely on the small number of people—journalists and lawyers, mostly—who witnessed them. And those reports differed, depending on, say, whether one watched MSNBC or Fox News.
The dissonance is about to get more extreme. Trump is facing four criminal cases: in the District of Columbia, related to the events of January 6th; in Florida, also a federal case, which involves hoarding documents marked classified; in Georgia, in a state rico case related to January 6th, which encompasses his attempts to get officials to “find” him votes; and in New York, on state charges of falsifying business records. (Trump has denied any wrongdoing.) Currently, only the Georgia proceedings are due to be televised. New York law severely restricts what parts of a criminal trial can be filmed, and the federal judicial system’s Rule 53 blocks the broadcasting of federal criminal trials.
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