As the impeachment proceedings officially move on to the Senate with Nancy Pelosi naming seven Democrats as House impeachment managers for the upcoming Senate trial slated to start on Tuesday, it's important to know that the Senate GOP absolutely considers a free press allowed to cover the proceedings live as a threat to national security and as a threat to the senators themselves, and a major press crackdown is already being planned.
The Senate sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police are launching an unprecedented crackdown on the Capitol press corps for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, following a standoff between the Capitol’s chief security officials, Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt and the standing committees of correspondents.
Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger will enact a plan that intends to protect senators and the chamber, but it also suggests that credentialed reporters and photographers whom senators interact with on a daily basis are considered a threat.
Additional security screening and limited movement within the Capitol for reporters are two issues that are drawing criticism from Capitol Hill media.
The Standing Committee of Correspondents, which represents journalists credentialed in the daily press galleries in the House and Senate, has come out forcefully against the planned restrictions that it says rejected every suggestion made by the correspondents “without an explanation of how the restrictions contribute to safety rather than simply limit coverage of the trial.”
Standing gallery committees are panels made up of journalists elected by their colleagues; they help oversee press operations and work to ensure press access to public officials and proceedings on Capitol Hill.
“These potential restrictions fail to acknowledge what currently works on Capitol Hill, or the way the American public expects to be able to follow a vital news event about their government in the digital age,” the Standing Committee of Correspondents said in a letter Tuesday.
When the articles of impeachment are delivered to the Senate, a procession full of pomp and circumstance, just one video camera and no still photographers will be allowed to document the historic moment. No audio recording at all will be permitted, leaving radio reporters empty-handed.
This restriction was not in place when the articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton were delivered to the secretary of the Senate in 1998, a fact confirmed by CQ Roll Call file photos and coverage of the event.
During the trial, a single press pen will be set up on the second floor of the Senate, where lawmakers enter and exit the chamber. Reporters will be confined to the pen, unable to move with senators. No movement will be allowed outside the corrals, and reporters and photographers will need to be escorted to and from the pen.
This is being down for two reasons, one, to belittle and insult the press which Republicans clearly believe are an enemy of the people, and two, to control information flow during the trial and to make sure that it can successfully laundered through FOX News and other right-wing sources, who will still find a way to get their "exclusives" during the trial.
This is being done for the same awful reasons that the White House has in order to justify not having press briefings for the last nine months.
It's to make sure no embarrassing sound bites happen, like GOP senators letting their masks slip and admitting Trump is a criminal.