When President Donald Trump went to the Capitol last week, a protester snuck into the press area and threw Russian flags at the President. When Vice President Michael Pence visited the Capitol on Monday, Capitol Police, according to reporters, aggressively cracked down on reporters, closing down hallways and subjecting them to frequent credential checks.
Bloomberg News congressional reporter Billy House, who is chair of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, tweeted, “We are dismayed at the sudden aggressive enforcement of the rules and are concerned about negative effects it can have on the media’s ability to do its job.”
In an email exchange with TKNN, House elaborated, “The Standing Committee of Correspondents is distressed that our credentialed reporters are being subjected to increased scrutiny as a direct result of the intruder who found his way into a press-only area. It wasn’t our fault that this protester made it into the Capitol, yet it appears the press is being penalized for the security lapse. I should point out that members of the press have already gone through a detailed, thorough vetting process to obtain press credentials. There is no need for more.”
“The United States Capitol Police have not introduced any changes to the access that the media have within the U.S. Capitol. We are simply enforcing the current rules and protocols already in place to ensure the safety and security of elected officials, Members of Congress, staff, visitors, and members of the press,” Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki said in a statement. A follow-up question as to why reporters said today was different if the rules were not changed went unanswered.
House also said that the Standing Committee has sent a letter to the Capitol Police asking for more information and they “are continuing to work with USCP and others to reach a solution that works for everyone.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking at a Senate Democrats press conference, told reporters, “Obviously reporters are some of the last people who should face unwarranted restrictions. My office and the Rules Committee are looking into a remedy as soon as possible.”
A few congressional reporters tweeted their frustration at the restrictions. The Huffington Post’s Matt Fuller tweeted, “It’s unreasonable for the Capitol Police to use their own mistakes as a reason to clamp down on press access.” NBC News’s Frank Thorp called the restrictions “absurd” and said “these new restrictions hamper our ability to do our job.”