Binoculars in hand, reporters go Trump-spotting at New York trial

The must-have accessory at Donald Trump’s hush money trial? Binoculars.

In a New York City courtroom where cameras are not allowed and where most of the primo spots offering the best views of the ex-president are taken, these devices are being deployed by enterprising reporters, courtroom sketch artists and legal analysts straining to see his every grimace and pout and to maybe catch him napping, as well.

“That’s the latest issue, to see if he’s sleeping or to check if his eyes are closed,” veteran NBC News courts reporter Adam Reiss, who has used binoculars to cover other high-profile trials, said Tuesday.

Laura Jarrett, NBC News’ senior legal correspondent and a co-anchor of “Saturday TODAY,” said in a feed from the trial that reporters are resorting to binoculars because it’s hard to see Trump otherwise.

“The court sketch artists are using [them], too,” said Jarrett, adding that as the trial has gone on, binocular sightings have become more common.

Scanning the courtroom, Jarrett s:aid “I can see at least four pairs in the main courtroom here today, but might be more.”

That number varies from day to day.

NBC News’ Katherine Doyle said that she just saw one pair Friday and that they were in the hands of an ABC News reporter.

Most of the reporters, however, are based in the overflow room adjacent to the main courtroom where they follow the proceedings on a big screen.

“It’s like what you would find in a sports bar,” said Phil Hirschkorn, who is covering the trial for Britain’s ITV News. “The judge is in the top left-hand corner. The witness is testifying in the top right corner. The lawyers are in the bottom left-hand corner. Trump is at the bottom right.”

Hirschkorn said that Trump may seem larger than life to some people but that on the screen “he’s smaller than life, and that’s when it helps to have the binoculars.”

Also, in a trial like this, “a lot of the evidence is on the screen,” Hirschkorn said.

“This is a documents case, and without the binoculars they’re very hard to see,” he said. “Like the text messages. They’re very small print.”

The hottest brand of binoculars among the Trump watchers appears to be from a company called SkyGenius, which sells a high-powered $79.99 model with an “anti-slip grip” that is favored by bird-watchers to an $18.99 kiddie version that comes in a variety of bright colors.

“One reporter says he saw others using so he purchased,” Jarrett wrote.

Reiss said he relies on a no-name brand he has been buying from Amazon for years, which costs about $16 apiece.

“They’re cheap, but they work well,” he said. “I just need them to be strong enough to see about 30 feet away.”

Because of the constraints of the cramped courtroom and the fact that wherever Trump goes there’s usually a posse of lawyers and a Secret Service detail in tow, reporters often can’t tell who is accompanying him until they’ve been seated.

“Like today was the first time his son Eric showed up,” Reiss said. “The binoculars help me identify the members of the entourage.”

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