Jack Smith's team says Trump wants a 'carnival' at his election interference trial

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Jack Smith’s office said Monday that former President Donald Trump wants a “carnival atmosphere” at his federal election interference trial, which is set to get underway in the nation’s capital in March.

Trump is facing a four-count indictment, returned in August, that charges he participated in a conspiracy “to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by using knowingly false claims of election fraud to obstruct the government function by which those results are collected, counted and certified.”

NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News, and other media outlets are arguing for the trial to be televised. Trump’s attorney previously told Smith’s office that they took no position on whether the trial should be televised, but then changed course in a politically-heated filing proclaiming that Smith’s office knew that the charges against Trump are “meritless” and is seeking to “proceed in secret, forcing the nation and the world to rely on biased, secondhand accounts coming from the Biden Administration and its media allies.” There was not much legal argument in the court filing, which The New York Times referred to as “short on legal arguments and long on bluster.”

Trump’s trial is very unlikely to be televised, given that federal criminal proceedings have never been aired on television, and broadcasting criminal trials violates the federal rules on criminal procedure. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan for the District of Columbia has repeatedly stated that she will treat Trump like any other criminal defendant and that broadcasting his trial would be a major departure from the norm.

In its filing Monday, Smith’s team said that there’s a “constitutionally-sound broadcast prohibition that has governed federal criminal trials — no matter the defendant — for decades” and that there’s no reason to depart from common practice.

Trump “may elect to craft court filings with the goal of gathering media coverage rather than lawful relief from the Court, as he appears to have done on this and many other occasions,” but there’s no reason to make an exception to the rule for his case, the team argued.

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,” Smith’s team said. “As the Court has already observed in proceedings in the defendant’s criminal trial, the defendant and his counsel will, if permitted, design their in-court statements instead to wage a public relations campaign.”

Trump “ignores that high-profile federal criminal trials have long proceeded in accordance with the broadcast prohibition under the rules—and that they have garnered significant and detailed media coverage of courtroom proceedings nonetheless,” the team wrote, citing the trial of one of the Boston Marathon bombers, a co-conspirator in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the Oklahoma City bomber.

“This has remained true in the context of trials related to the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol, including on seditious conspiracy charges,” Smith’s team wrote, citing the trials of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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