Statement on Press Access for President Trump’s Impeachment Trial

Statement on Press Access for President Trump’s Impeachment Trial

The Executive Committee of Correspondents’ is concerned about the restrictions on press coverage put in place at the start of President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.

The new procedures rolled out this week across the Capitol grounds, some implemented without explanation or justification, have made it more difficult for journalists to do their work and gain access to senators, including those senators who are willing to engage with the Capitol Hill press corps.

In some locations, our members have been inappropriately restricted from interacting with lawmakers before Chief Justice John Roberts had even arrived at the Capitol, and were even prevented from engaging with senators off-camera. Other restrictions that have been put in place or are under consideration appear to break with previous practice and the precedent on press access set during President Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, including more restrictive access in corridors surrounding the Senate chamber.

The Capitol has long been a place in Washington where the press can work with few restrictions and move freely in seeking access to members of Congress. If the restrictions that occurred this week remain in place, the media will have less access in 2020 than they did in 1999.

With the trial resuming Tuesday, the committee remains committed to protecting journalists’ First Amendment rights and ability to cover these important proceedings for Americans across the political spectrum and our wider audiences. 

The committee understands that discussions around Senate protocol and security for the next several weeks are still ongoing, and remain committed to working in good faith with all relevant parties.

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