Paul Manafort's blockbuster trial won't be televised — along with any other Mueller trials — because it's illegal

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Paul Manafort is appearing in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, this week.
  • It is the first trial from Robert Mueller’s investigation, and interest is huge.
  • However, federal law means it’s illegal to televise proceedings, for Manafort’s trial and any to follow.
  • Journalists can attend, but have been told to lock up their phones.

The first court trial from Robert Mueller’s investigation begins on Tuesday, but there’s no way to watch it on TV as it will be illegal to broadcast it.

Tuesday’s trial will see Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, face a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on criminal charges of tax evasion.

If found guilty, Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison. He would be the first Trump associate to be convicted of anything as a result of Mueller’s long-running probe into the president and his circle.

Interest in the trial is huge, and news media publications –including Business Insider – are covering it as closely as possible.

But ordinary people who want to watch Manafort testify on TV won’t be able to, thanks to federal law.

Although photography and broadcasting is allowed in some US courtrooms, they are strictly prohibited in criminal trials in federal court.

Journalists at the trial won’t be able to provide live coverage from within the courtroom either. Multiple reportersin Alexandriahave tweeted about not being able to take their phones, or any other device capable of recording audio or taking photos, into court.

And because Mueller’s investigation is a federal one, these rules will also apply to any future trials which result from his probe.

Although Tuesday’s trial stems from Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, it will focus on Manafort’s consulting work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, and only briefly touch on his involvement with the Trump campaign.

In fact, prosecutors said last week that they didn’t expect the word “Russia” to be mentioned at all, the Associated Press reported.

Tuesday starts with jury selection. Jurors will face questions from both sides of the trial and US District Judge TS Ellis III as they try to remove potential prejudice from the case.

Trump has repeatedly called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt,” and Manafort is unwilling to plead guilty to any crime. He is also a defendant in a separate case from Mueller’s office. That trial is scheduled for September 17 in Washington, DC.

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