Aug 3, 2023, 4:56pm EDT
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Inside the courthouse, US media covers Trump’s every move — literally

Media members prepare for the eventual arrival of former U.S. President Donald Trump, who is facing federal charges in connection with attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., August 3, 2023.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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The News

Donald Trump prepared to be arraigned on federal charges Thursday with his hands clasped, while occasionally gesturing, picking up papers, or looking around.

That’s according to reports from journalists inside the courthouse who had nothing to do but look at the former president and wait for the historic proceedings to begin.

With no cameras from the media allowed in the courtroom, the journalists’ second-by-second updates were the only way for the public to understand what was happening.

Here are the best dispatches from the courtroom that described Trump’s actions, looks, and gestures in excruciating detail.

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At one point, The New York Times’ Charlie Savage observed that Trump ”clasped, unclasped and re-clasped his hands.”


A few minutes later, he reported that Trump was “conferring with John F. Lauro, his lawyer, gesturing with his hands as he says something and then clasping them again. Lauro is leaning close, resting on an elbow and covering his mouth with his hand. Trump looks left, looks right, looks forward and waits.”

In a later update, just before the hearing began, Savage acknowledged: “A reporter tries to come up with yet another descriptive way to convey that nothing is happening yet.”

“Trump’s fidgety,” CBS News Congressional Correspondent Scott MacFarlane tweeted.

David Smith of The Guardian noted that Trump was “folding and unfolding hands, unable to keep still.” Smith added: “He picks up a document and quickly puts it down again.”

Much of the reporters’ attention focused on Trump’s dynamic with Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges against him.

One “stunning moment,” according to ABC News’ John Santucci, happened when Trump could be seen “staring right toward Smith, knocking his clasped hands on the table in a tense way.”

When Trump entered the courtroom, Smith “was probably the only person in the room not to have looked,” NBC News reported on its live blog. “Later, though, he did seem to look in Trump’s direction for a good bit.”