For once, Donald Trump doesn’t want cameras in the room. And less than 24 hours before the former president is set to be arraigned on criminal charges, a Manhattan judge mostly agreed.
New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan issued ruling late Monday denying media requests for TV cameras in his courtroom Tuesday afternoon local time. However, he will allow five pool photographers “to take still photos for several minutes” before the proceedings officially begin.
“That this indictment involves a matter of monumental significance cannot possibly be disputed,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “Never in the history of the United States has a sitting or past President been indicted on criminal charges,” he added, but cautioned there were “competing interests” to consider in terms of media access.
Conversely, Merchan will permit TV cameras to film in the hallway outside his courtroom to film as Trump and his entourage arrive and leave. The short hearing expected to begin around 2 p.m. ET.
Additionally, laptops, cell phones and other handheld devices will not be permitted in the courtroom.
Trump’s legal team said in a letter to Merchan this week it wanted the media’s camera request denied “because it will create a circus-like atmosphere at the arraignment, raise unique security concerns, and is inconsistent with President Trump’s presumption of innocence.”
On the whole, cameras, live and still, in Manhattan courts are not the norm. Having said that, Merchan did permit photographers in the courtroom during a previous and unrelated case concerning the Trump Organization itself. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office had no position on whether or not cameras could chronicle the historic event of the first POTUS to face criminal charges.
After a long probe, the much accused Trump was indicted by a grand jury on March 30 for a $130,000 hush money payment that the Art of the Deal author’s then-attorney and now foil Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election. Despite circumstantial evidence galore, Trump has denied having an affair with porn star Daniels, which she alleges occurred in 2006.
Even with the arraignment, it could be months, if not up to a year, before any trial actually starts, if it does. Also, details on the still-sealed indictment, which is said to run to over 30 charges, will provide a fuller sense of the greater implications of this case. As is standard, the indictment is expected to be unsealed by the court Tuesday once the process of Trump’s arraignment begins.
In what has already become a media circus of wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s trip from his Florida residence to NYC on Monday, Merchan’s decision sets the tone for Trump’s much anticipated booking and hearing. Of course, while Trump didn’t want cameras to capture him at the defendant’s table, the past and current candidate has been relentlessly slamming the judge, the D.A. and everyone else involved with the case for weeks, as well as fundraising millions off the indictment for his 2024 bid.
The New York case is far from the only legal danger the ex-POTUS faces. With charges expected in the coming weeks, he could face racketeering and conspiracy charges in Georgia out of an alleged attempt to directly overturn his 2020 loss to Joe Biden. Also, Trump is the subject of DOJ investigations into the mishandling of classified documents, the January 6 insurrection and other moves to discredit the result of the 2020 election and his unsuccessful reelection.
Trump being Trump, the former president has a campaign-style event scheduled for his Mar-a-Lago home for Tuesday night.