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 MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract House, Senate announce agreement on anti-robocall bill Democratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream 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 UdallBureau of Land Management staff face relocation or resignation as agency moves west Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Hillicon Valley: Twitter to refuse all political ads | Trump camp blasts 'very dumb' decision | Ocasio-Cortez hails move | Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook's ad policies | GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill MORE (N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate aides met with tax return whistleblower: report Democratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices MORE (Ore.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder Liz Cheney applauds Trump for pulling out of Paris climate agreement MORE (Del.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinIt's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems unveil impeachment measure; Vindman splits GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems shift strategy on impeachment vote MORE (Wis.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenRahm Emanuel: Bloomberg, Patrick entering race will allow Democrats to have 'ideas primary' Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Jayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' MORE (Mass.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry MORE (Vt.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process MORE (N.Y.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Commerce extends Huawei waiver | Senate Dems unveil privacy bill priorities | House funding measure extends surveillance program | Trump to tour Apple factory | GOP bill would restrict US data going to China Senate Democrats unveil priorities for federal privacy bill Microsoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate MORE (Wash.) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRahm Emanuel: Bloomberg, Patrick entering race will allow Democrats to have 'ideas primary' Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Jayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' MORE (Vt.) signed the letter.