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OPINION

Trump's Trial Needs to Be Televised

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool

On Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg presented his bag-of-tricks indictment charging former President Donald Trump with 34 counts of false entries in business records. Bragg managed to slice and dice two payments to former hookers into what sounds like a big deal -- 34 felonies. Don't be fooled. As former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, no fan of Trump, said of Bragg's case, it's "an abomination" held together "by chicken wire and paper clips and rubber bands."

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The judge in the case, Justice Juan Merchan, set the next court date for Dec. 8, 2023, with a trial likely some time in 2024. That's smack in the middle of the campaign for the presidency, and will stick Trump in a courtroom with daily press coverage as "the defendant."

After Trump's arraignment, Bragg released a statement saying he charged Trump because "everyone stands equal before the law." Bragg's lying. No one else would have been prosecuted for the business entries referred to in the indictment. Nor would Trump, had he quietly exited the White House in 2020 and retired. The prosecution intends to cripple Trump's candidacy.

That is why it is important that the entire trial be televised. The New York County jury pool may be unavoidably biased against Trump, but if the jury convicts, the case will be appealed where the law and facts will more likely prevail.

The real jury in this case is the public, which will decide if they want Trump to be president again. The public needs to be able to scrutinize Trump's trial, gavel to gavel. Bragg's legal gymnastics need to be on full display, as he attempts to leap over the statute of limitations, turn a state misdemeanor allegedly committed seven years ago into a federal felony and transform two business transactions into 34 separate crimes.

Here's the hitch: In New York State, TV cameras are barred from the courtroom.

A bill to allow televised coverage awaits action in the New York State legislature. Lawmakers need to pass it now. The public deserves transparency. All states except New York and Louisiana already permit TV cameras in court.

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A televised trial will allow people to see for themselves whether the judge treats both sides fairly and if the prosecution's key witnesses -- convicted perjurer Michael Cohen and porn star Stephanie Gregory Clifford, known as "Stormy Daniels" -- crumble under cross-examination.

How believable are these people?

The spotlight should also be trained on Merchan, currently assigned to the case in the New York State Supreme Court. On Friday, Trump lashed out on Truth Social, saying Merchan "HATES ME" and "treated my companies ... VICIOUSLY."

Merchan presided over the jury trial last year of Trump's real estate company for tax offenses, resulting in a conviction and fines, as well as the sentencing of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to five months in prison. He's also presiding over a case against Steve Bannon, former Trump adviser.

Is Merchan's ever-expanding anti-Trump portfolio mere coincidence? It's reported that his daughter Loren Merchan worked for Kamala Harris' campaign in the 2020 presidential election and now runs a business dealing with the Biden political operation.

The liberal media are giving the judge glowing reviews for his work ethic and rise out of poverty, and are declining to question his impartiality. With a televised trial, viewers can draw their own conclusions.

In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that allowing television equipment and reporters into a courtroom was so disruptive that it denied the defendant a fair trial.

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But by 1981, technology had so improved that televising a trial could be done without disruption, and SCOTUS reversed that ruling.

Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina, cautions that he's planning motions to dismiss, saying, "there is no crime." Perhaps he'll succeed, but New York lawmakers have plenty of time to legalize cameras in court, in case Trump is taken to trial.

The stakes are higher than Trump's own assets, reputation or even freedom. Bragg's success would unleash political prosecutions by left-wing, Soros-supported prosecutors across this nation. You could be next. As Trump warned in 2019: "They're not after me. They're after you."

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