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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

"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 committee had sought an exemption from the long-standing rule prohibiting the use of laptops by reporters in the Senate chamber during the trial. Instead, Senate leadership plans to install a magnetometer in the press entrance to the chamber during the trial to prevent the use of electronic devices.

The committee said the use of a magnetometer won't help safety and instead "gives the impression that it is being done mostly to protect senators from the bright light of the public knowing what they are doing in one of the country's most important moments."

Blunt said that despite limitations on the use of technology and movement by reporters, partly due to Chief Justice John Roberts' presence during the trial, the news media will still have substantial access.

Blunt said the Senate's impeachment rules require it to conduct certain debates under a closed session, and this rule has prompted some of the restrictions.

"And part of the decision about access will be driven by how quickly you can clear the room, so you can have that debate and get people back into the room so you can move forward."

 

The restrictions will stand unless a two-thirds majority votes to loosen the rules. Blunt suggested this would be impossible to accomplish in the current Senate, but did not directly say how he would vote in this scenario.

"We're not going to have 67 votes. As you all know, I'm always for press access as you can tell right now," Blunt told a crowd of reporters. "Would I be standing here if I was opposed to press access?"

(c)2020 McClatchy Washington Bureau

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