Donald Trump trial can be televised, judge rules

An ex-president in the dock would lead to some of this era's most defining images

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The judge overseeing Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia has ruled that all court proceedings can be live-streamed to the public, setting the stage for what could easily become the most watched trial in US history.

Global and domestic television audiences have followed high-profile US cases with intense interest over the decades, but never before has a former president been prosecuted, let alone on live TV.

The stakes could hardly be higher for Mr Trump, who is the Republican Party front-runner to win next year's nomination to run for president.

He has vigorously denied all charges and says his criminal cases are politically motivated, and the former TV host may well play to the camera as he fights the felony racketeering charges against him.

“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,” a group of Democrats in Congress wrote in a letter last month asking that all of Mr Trump's trials be televised.

US courts vary in whether they permit cameras in the courtroom. Federal courts ban them, but state courts often allow them, including in Georgia, where Mr Trump is due to stand trial on charges he conspired to overturn the 2020 election that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden by seven million votes.

Of the four criminal cases Mr Trump faces, only the one in Georgia is being prosecuted by a state, meaning the judge can permit cameras. The other three cases – in Miami, Washington and New York – are federal.

Several of Mr Trump's 18 co-defendants have already asked to have their cases transferred to federal court, where they would avoid the camera's stare.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said on Thursday that he planned to allow live-streaming of the trial on a Fulton County-provided YouTube channel. He said he would also allow video and photographs to be shot by press pool members.

High-profile trials attract millions of viewers in the US and abroad. Some of the more memorable moments of courtroom drama include OJ Simpson, who had been accused of murdering his wife, trying on a pair of gloves that prosecutors said he wore when he killed her.

The gloves appeared far too small for him, leading to his lawyer Johnnie Cochrane's famous line: “If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.”

Simpson was acquitted in 1995.

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Updated: September 01, 2023, 6:00 PM