Reports of a planned crackdown on media access to the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald John Trump Democratic challenger on Van Drew’s party switch: ‘He betrayed our community’ Rand Paul pledges to force Hunter Biden vote if GOP backs Dem impeachment witnesses Trump plans to divert .2 billion from Pentagon for border wall construction: report MORE is drawing fierce criticism from members of the press.
Roll Call first reported on Tuesday that the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Capitol Police are adding restrictions on members of the press during the trial, including additional screening and new constraints on reporters’ freedom of movement in the Capitol.
The decision reportedly came after a meeting between the Capitol’s chief security officials, Senate Rules Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP leadership: There aren’t 51 votes to dismiss Trump articles of impeachment Advocates urge Trump, Congress to nominate tough watchdogs to FEC McConnell tells GOP senators to expect impeachment trial next week MORE and the standing committees of correspondents.
The news drew swift condemnation from journalists, including Sarah Wire, a Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and head of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, who tweeted that the committee “vigorously objects to restrictions being considered on press access during the upcoming Senate trial of President Trump.”
I’m loathe to insert myself in the news, but as the Chair of the Standing Committee of Correspondents I am compelled to weigh in on the restrictions to press access during the Senate impeachment trial that are being proposed. Bear with me.
— Sarah D. Wire (@sarahdwire) January 14, 2020
One consequence of these new rules is that reporters’ access to senators could be significantly limited during the trial.
“Reporters will be kept in pens, meaning only senators seeking out press coverage will get covered,” Wire tweeted.
The restriction allows just one video camera and no still photography or audio recording in the trial. Credentialed reporters, who go through security screening to enter the Capitol, will be screened a second time to enter the Senate chamber to watch the trial proceedings to ensure no restricted materials enter the trial.
Senate press gallery staff, who fall under the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and opposed the restrictions, will have to enforce the media restrictions.
Seung Min Kim, a White House reporter for the Washington Post, said in a tweet that “Excessive restrictions like these only hurt the public who are rightfully seeking up-to-date information on an incredibly historic event such as the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president in history.”
“I am floored,” Kim added.
Excessive restrictions like these only hurt the public who are rightfully seeking up-to-date information on an incredibly historic event such as the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president in history. I am floored. https://t.co/bX3aveurrd
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) January 14, 2020
Meanwhile, Niels Lesniewski, a Senate reporter with CQ Roll Call tweeted that “United States senators aren’t exactly huge fans of the free press, it turns out.”
United States senators aren’t exactly huge fans of the free press, it turns out.
— Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski) January 14, 2020
— Updated at 5:46 p.m.