Report: Mitch McConnell To Limit Press Access To Trump’s Impeachment Trial
The Senate sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police will launch an unprecedented crackdown on the Capitol press corps for the upcoming impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, according to Roll Call
After a standoff between the Capitol’s chief security officials, Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, and the Standing Committee of Correspondents, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger announced their plan that intends to protect senators and the chamber, yet suggests that credentialed reporters and photographers are considered a threat.
The Standing Committee of Correspondents, which represents journalists credentialed in the daily press galleries in the House and Senate, have forcefully criticized the planned restrictions. The committee says that every suggestion made by the correspondents was rejected “without an explanation of how the restrictions contribute to safety rather than simply limit coverage of the trial.”
“These potential restrictions fail to acknowledge what currently works on Capitol Hill, or the way the American public expects to be able to follow a vital news event about their government in the digital age,” the Standing Committee of Correspondents said in a letter Tuesday.
When the articles of impeachment are delivered to the Senate, only one video camera will be allowed to document the historic moment. No still photographers and no audio recordings will be permitted.
Credentialed members of the media will be required to go through two separate security screenings in order to watch the trial proceedings. Magnetometers will be set up in the Senate Daily Press Gallery, which is expected to cause delays and shape coverage, since reporters will not be able to enter and exit the chamber quickly when news breaks.
The standing committees advocated a temporary exemption from the long-standing rule on electronics, to allow laptops of cell phones, but the status quo will prevail.
“There is no additional safety or security brought by bringing such a device into reporter work space and gives the impression that it is being done mostly to protect Senators from the bright light of the public knowing what they are doing in one of the country’s most important moments,” the Standing Committee of Correspondents wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
The planned restrictions on the press will surpass those in place for the Clinton impeachment trial and the highly charged confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.