Several media outlets, including CNN, have asked a New York judge to unseal the grand jury indictment against former President Donald Trump. The news organizations are also asking for permission to broadcast Trump’s expected appearance in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday for his arraignment on the charges.
In their letter Friday seeking to make the indictment public, the media outlets told Judge Juan Merchan – who is slated to preside over the historic proceedings – that “the right of access is at its zenith when applied to the first ever indictment of a former U.S. president.”
The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal are among the outlets making the request.
“And no higher values are served by keeping the indictment under seal. Aside from the fact that a former U.S. president is not a flight risk, maintaining the indictment under seal, despite the public disclosure of its existence, only fuels speculation as to its contents. Full disclosure of the indictment will enhance both the general public’s and the parties’ right to an accurate public understanding of the charges,” the request said. “As such, former President Trump’s indictment should be unsealed without delay.”
If the judge does not grant the media outlets’ unsealing request, it is expected that the indictment will be made public when Trump appears in court Tuesday.
With their request to broadcast those proceedings, the media outlets told the court that “the gravity of this proceeding – the unprecedented and historic arraignment of a former U.S. President – and, consequently, the need for the broadest possible public access, cannot be overstated.”
The news organizations are asking for a “limited number of photographers, videographers, and radio journalists to be present at the arraignment,” and said in the letter that they are making “this limited request for audio-visual coverage in order to ensure that the operations of the Court will not be disrupted in any way.”
“The News Organizations stand ready to work cooperatively with the Court to ensure that the public have an opportunity to observe this monumental and historical proceeding,” the media outlets said, while proposing that the court hold a hearing on the matter if it would helpful to making a decision.
Merchan is expected to issue an order Monday on camera access in the courtroom for Trump’s Tuesday arraignment. On Sunday, he invited lawyers for Trump and for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to submit by 1 p.m. Monday any concerns or objections to the media outlets’ request to broadcast the arraignment.
Trump faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud in the indictment. The investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office began when Trump was still in the White House and relates to a $130,000 payment made by his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels in late October 2016, days before the presidential election, to silence her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump has denied the affair.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Lauren DelValle contributed to this report.