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'No cameras, no C-Span, no coverage.' Rules will limit access during Trump's trial

Bryan Lowry, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said Tuesday that there will be restrictions to public and press access during President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, including periods when the Senate chamber is cleared of reporters.

The bulk of the trial will be broadcast on television. But during certain periods of debate, the Senate will go into closed session under its impeachment rules, the Missouri Republican told reporters.

"I mean closed session. I mean there will be nobody there but senators and essential staff. No cameras, no C-Span, no coverage, what the rules say happened last time," said Blunt, the Senate Rules chairman and a member of Senate GOP leadership, referring to restrictions in place during former President Bill Clinton's 1999 trial.

"Now 67 of us could change that, but 67 of us don't appear inclined to change anything."

As Senate Rules chairman, Blunt is in charge of enforcing rules related to press and public access when the Senate holds the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation's history.

Security concerns will also limit public and press access to the Capitol during the trial, Blunt said.

 

The specific rules have not yet been issued, but Republican leaders have been in discussion in recent days with organizations representing newspaper and broadcast reporters in the Capitol.

It's expected that there will be restrictions on press movement in the Capitol, which will limit the ability of reporters to question senators. Electronic devices will be barred from the Senate chamber and restricted in other areas of the Capitol.

The Standing Committee of Correspondents, which advocates on behalf of the congressional press corps, decried the proposed rules in a letter to Senate leadership Tuesday.

"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," the letter said.

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