- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 18, 2020

Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle encountered criticism Friday over restrictions proposed for journalists covering the upcoming impeachment trial of President Trump.

A coalition of 18 groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) raised concerns in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, about rules proposed for reporters attending Mr. Trump’s trial starting Tuesday.

First reported this week by Roll Call, measures included among the proposed rules involve restricting members of the media to a single “press pen” during impeachment proceedings and preventing reporters from using electronic devices to cover the trial from inside the Senate gallery.

Echoing concerns raised previously by the Standing Committee of Correspondents, a group representing credentialed journalists on Capitol Hill, the signees of the letter sent to Senate leaders Friday said they “vigorously object” to the proposed rules and warned they would place “unprecedented restrictions” on members of the press seeking to inform the public.

“Instead of imposing restrictions on the nation’s greatest deliberative body that seek to go back to the 20th Century, the Senate should be using modern technologies to enable every American to arm themselves with knowledge about how our representatives are upholding their oaths to be fair and impartial jurors in one of the most momentous proceedings in our nation’s history,” the groups wrote.

“We ask that the Sergeant at Arms and the Senate Rules Committee rescind these overly restrictive regulations. Short term restrictions on access all too often metastasize into long term bans. Should there still be a desire to promulgate new regulations, we expect it will occur in an open and deliberative fashion — not prompted by the rush of history, but rather in light of informing our posterity,” the groups added.

Spokespersons for Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer did not immediately return messages requesting comment.

The House of Representatives votes last month to pass two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstructing Congress. The president has denied wrongdoing.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was sworn in on Thursday this week to preside over the impeachment trial and subsequently swore in the Senate to serve as jurors.

Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial is officially set to start Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

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