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 MarkeyThere's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Trump administration drops plan to face scan all travelers leaving or entering US Advocates hopeful dueling privacy bills can bridge partisan divide 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 UdallSenate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters Bureau 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 MORE (N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills Congressional leaders unite to fight for better future for America's children and families McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug bill MORE (Ore.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLobbying World Overnight 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 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 WarrenTrump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash MORE (Mass.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Lawmakers bypass embattled Mulvaney in spending talks MORE (Vt.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWhite House, Congress near deal to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to all federal workers Bloomberg on 2020 rivals blasting him for using his own money: 'They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money' Harris posts video asking baby if she'll run for president one day MORE (N.Y.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellThere's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators want FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats MORE (Wash.) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE (Vt.) signed the letter.