In light of the impending historic trials of former President Donald Trump on 91 criminal counts, House Democrats have begun advocating for passage of a bipartisan bill that would put cameras in federal courtrooms across the country.
"There's no substitute for people seeing proceedings for themselves and drawing their own conclusion," Rep. Glenn Ivey of Maryland, a former prosecutor, told CBS News.
The bill was authored by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa before Trump was criminally indicted.
Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner has been agitating for televising Trump's federal proceedings for months.
"In attempting to steal the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump tried to rob us, the American voters, of the full value of our vote," Kirschner explained in an August video. Voters, he added, particularly in battleground states, are "victims of Donald Trump's crimes." And according to the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act, Kirschner explained, crime victims have "the right not to be excluded from any public court proceeding."
"So crime victims, the victims of Donald Trump’s election crimes," he continued, "have a right, a legal right, a statutory right, not to be excluded from the courtroom, not to be excluded from the trial."
The "only" way that statutory right can be honored, Kirschner concluded, "is to televise the trial."
But speaking to MSNBC on Aug. 31, Kirschner previewed the toxicity an untelevised trial would inject into the national atmosphere.
"If cameras are not allowed in the federal courtroom, you're going to have Donald Trump's team of lawyers step to the cameras at the end of every trial day and misrepresent what went on there," Kirschner explained. "They're going to say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, you won't believe it—the prosecution's evidence fell apart, they're being exposed every day as running a witch hunt.’"
By comparison, he added, special counsel Jack Smith's team of prosecutors will say "exactly nothing" to the cameras at the close of every trial day.
"That's not a fair fight in the court of public opinion," Kirschner said. "But the way to level that playing field is to put cameras in the federal court room."
And Kirschner is right to assess that Team Trump’s influence on the media environment if cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom would be devastating. Trump's trials are already poised to divide the nation, largely along partisan lines. A failure to televise the federal hearings would leave bad actors unchecked in their efforts to amplify both the amount and the intensity of disinformation in relation to the trials.
In all likelihood, the decision about whether to allow the proceedings to be televised will come down to Chief Justice John Roberts. And history will ultimately be judge and jury of Roberts’ decision.
What do you do if you're associated with one of the biggest election fraud scandals in recent memory? If you're Republican Mark Harris, you try running for office again! On this week's episode of "The Downballot," we revisit the absolutely wild story of Harris' 2018 campaign for Congress, when one of his consultants orchestrated a conspiracy to illegally collect blank absentee ballots from voters and then had his team fill them out before "casting" them. Officials wound up tossing the results of this almost-stolen election, but now Harris is back with a new bid for the House—and he won't shut up about his last race, even blaming Democrats for the debacle.