Journalists denounce “security crackdown” against them for Senate impeachment trial

On January 14, Roll Call reported, “The Senate sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police are launching an unprecedented crackdown on the Capitol press corps for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.” The planned restrictions suggest that “credentialed reporters and photographers whom senators interact with on a daily basis are considered a threat.” Many journalists quickly denounced the move. 

According to the report, the rule changes are a “break with precedent” from the previous impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton and force journalists to remain in a “press pen” as senators enter and exit the chamber. The move will “squelch” the “time-honored practice” among Capitol Hill reporters of “walking, talking and relationship-building” with senators as they move through the building, making it far easier for them to avoid journalists’ questions on Trump’s impeachment trial. Additional security also “has the potential to cause delays and shape coverage of the impeachment trial itself.” 

Sarah Wire, Los Angeles Times congressional reporter and chair of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, said in a detailed Twitter thread that the committee’s suggestions for better policies “were rejected without an explanation of how the restrictions contribute to safety rather than simply limit coverage of the trial.”

In addition to at least two members of Congress -- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) who is also a ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee -- multiple journalists have criticized the rule changes as an attempt to restrict press coverage of an important public-interest event, potentially impacting coverage of other stories as well. 

CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju:

NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt:

HuffPost politics reporter Igor Bobic:

Washington Post White House reporter Seung Min Kim:

Washington Post congressional reporter Mike DeBonis:

CNN congressional reporter Jeremy Herb:

Bloomberg Law reporter Shira Stein:

AP Chief Photographer in Washington Evan Vucci:

New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser

Niskanen Center VP for Research Will Wilkinson: