Reports of a planned crackdown on media access to the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of President Trump is drawing fierce criticism from members of the press.
The Standing Committee of Correspondents, a group of reporters who represent and advocate for credentialed media in the Senate daily press gallery, sent a forceful letter Tuesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), decrying the possible restrictions.
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, Blunt and the standing committees of correspondents.
The restrictions allow 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 6:50 p.m.