By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith on Monday accused Donald Trump of seeking to create a “carnival atmosphere” at his upcoming trial on charges that he sought to overturn his 2020 election defeat by calling for the proceedings to be televised.
Smith, who is prosecuting the case, said in a court filing that Trump and his lawyers would use a televised trial to distract from the charges and “wage a public relations campaign.”
Prosecutors working with Smith cited Trump’s conduct on the witness stand last week in a civil fraud case in New York in which Trump often refused to directly answer questions and made political arguments, drawing rebukes from the judge.
Trump late on Friday backed an effort by media organizations and press advocacy groups who have argued that broadcasting an unprecedented trial of a former U.S. president and frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024 would be in the public interest. Reuters is part of the media coalition.
In a court filing, Trump’s lawyers suggested that prosecutors wanted the trial held “in darkness” as part of what Trump claims is a politically motivated effort by President Joe Biden's administration to undermine his bid for re-election next year.
Prosecutors have opposed the effort, contending that Trump and news organizations have not shown why the court should abandon a longstanding rule barring broadcast of criminal cases in federal court.
Proceedings so far in the case have not been broadcast, but have been covered by reporters with limited seating available for the public in the courthouse.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to illegally subvert the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden. The case is one of four simultaneous criminal prosecutions facing Trump. Trump has pleaded not guilty in the other cases as well.
(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)