Senators to Trump: Reverse 'troubling' media crackdown
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are urging President Trump to drop a reported crackdown on federal agencies limiting their ability to release public information. 

Twelve senators — led by Massachusetts Democrat Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE — sent Trump a letter on Wednesday stressing they are "gravely troubled" by reports that the new administration is telling federal employees to limit the information they give to reporters, post on social media or turn over to Congress. 
 
The senators pointed to reports that the Trump team had effectively placed a "gag order" on career employees at the the Environmental Protection Agency and departments of Health and Human Services, Interior and Agriculture. 
 
"The American people expect an open, transparent and honest government, and your actions are not only contrary to that expectation, they promote a long lasting culture of fear among federal employees and prevent them from following their mission to openly serve the American public," the senators wrote. 
 
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They added, "Given your commitment to the rule of law and peaceful transition of power, we respectfully ask that you immediately reverse course."
 
Though the order was reportedly dropped at the Department of Agriculture, the early moves are sparking backlash and concerns that Trump is attempting to silence dissenting views and control the messaging from federal agencies. 
 
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday they were "looking into" whether the administration had changes the rules for agencies sharing information publicly. 
 
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that when there’s an administration turnover that we’re going to review the policies,” Spicer said, “but ... I don’t have information at this time.”

Asked about deleted tweets from national park Twitter accounts and whether there is a broader effort by the White House to limit communications from federal agencies, he added on Wednesday that "there's nothing that's come from the White House, absolutely not."  

But the senators warned that it is against the law to interfere with a federal agency's ability to communicate with Congress and that the broader effort goes against the populist rhetoric of Trump's presidential campaign. 
 
"These actions undermine trust in our federal government and do little to support your 'drain the swamp' pledge to 'make the government honest again,'" the senators wrote. 
 
In addition to Markey, Democratic Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE (N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans The FCC is trying to govern content moderation: It doesn't have the authority MORE (Ore.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (Del.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Next Congress expected to have record diversity Infrastructure, energy investments urgently needed to create U.S. jobs MORE (Wis.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary: report Bottom line MORE (Mass.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDurbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee McConnell wants deal this week on fiscal 2021 spending figures MORE (Vt.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Social media responds to Harris making history: 'I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing' Ocasio-Cortez says she doesn't plan on 'staying in the House forever' MORE (N.Y.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Esper reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases | Enemy attacks in Afghanistan jump by 50 percent, watchdog says | Fort Hood soldier arrested, charged in Chelsea Cheatham killing Zuckerberg to express openness to Section 230 reform MORE (Wash.) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration In the final chapter of 2020, we must recommit to repairing our democracy MORE (Vt.) signed the letter.