Democratic senator blasts 'draconian' press restrictions during impeachment trial

Democratic senator blasts 'draconian' press restrictions during impeachment trial
© Greg Nash

Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections Bottom line MORE (D-N.M.) on Tuesday blasted “draconian” restrictions on the press during the Senate’s impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE.

“Preventing credentialed reporters from moving freely around the Capitol and confining them to roped-off areas limits their ability to interview lawmakers about the impeachment proceedings. These restrictions are antithetical to a free press, good governance, and the ability of the public to be fully informed about what we as elected leaders do in their name,” Henrich wrote in a letter to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger.

“The American people expect and deserve a level of transparency and access to information about the government. The draconian restrictions placed on the Capitol press corps for the impeachment trial should be modified in a way that better balances access and security,” he wrote.

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“Hindering a free and open press is a disservice to the public and further undermines a fair process that is reflective of our American values,” Heinrich added.

Reporters have been kept in pens in the Capitol’s Ohio Clock corridor and Reception Room, allowing senators to exit the Senate chamber for meeting rooms or private offices without speaking to reporters during the impeachment trial.

A magnetometer has also been added to the Senate’s Daily Press Gallery to ensure that reporters aren't bringing phones or recorders into the Senate chamber, and the Senate sergeant-at-arms has authorized a heavy police presence in the nearby hallways.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans MORE (D-N.Y.) has said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies MORE (R-Ky.) did not consult him about the restrictions. However, a Senate source told The Hill that “everyone was made aware ahead of time as to what the plan would be.”

The Standing Committee of Correspondents blasted the restrictions last week, saying, "Capitol Hill is one of the most accessible places in Washington, but the proposed restrictions exceed those put in place during the State of the Union, Inauguration Day, or even during the Clinton impeachment trial 20 years ago."