GOP senator: 'Huge mistake' to restrict press access during impeachment trial

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) distanced himself on Wednesday from proposed restrictions on reporters covering the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, calling it a "huge mistake." 
 
"There is an effort to limit the press. ... I'm going to vote against that, if I'm allowed to vote," Kennedy told reporters. "U.S. senators are grown women and grown men. If they don't want to make a comment, they know how to say 'no comment.'" 
 
The Standing Committee of Correspondents said on Tuesday that the Senate sergeant-at-arms and the Senate Rules Committee are preparing to force new restrictions on press in the Capitol during the trial, including restricting the ability for reporters to talk to senators, something that is normally routine around Capitol Hill. 
 
The committee said they had tried to work with the Rules panel and the sergeant-at-arms, but every suggestion they made was rejected “without an explanation of how the restrictions contribute to safety rather than simply limit coverage of the trial.”
 

"No, I don't support it, and I have been in contact with both sides on this issue," she said. "I made it very clear, I talked to Sen. Blunt about this: I think we should have open access for the press."

The Senate isn't expected to hold a formal vote on the press restrictions as part of its process for establishing the impeachment rules. Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Collins walks impeachment tightrope Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial MORE (R-N.D.) did note, however, that Republicans discussed it during a closed-door caucus lunch on Tuesday. 
 
Kennedy added on Wednesday that he does not "support" the proposed restrictions. 
 
"If the media is limited to a specific geographical area so people can avoid them — we're not children. We're grown men and grown women. ... I just think that sends the wrong message," he said. 
 
One of the proposed restrictions would require reporters to stand in press pens on the second floor of the Senate. Reporters would not be allowed to leave the pens to talk to senators.