Reporters have increased access to senators and to areas surrounding the Senate floor during the second impeachment trial of former President Trump, compared to the last one.
During Trump’s first impeachment trial, about one year ago, there were much smaller press pens that reporters and photographers piled into and were required to have an escort to move in and out of. Reporters were not able to leave the pens to walk with senators, as is usual practice, near the Senate floor.
On the first day of this trial, press pens are much larger and appear to be more of a guideline than a rule. The ropes surrounding the pens have spaces between that reporters can walk in and out of. No escorts are needed and press is able to walk and talk with senators when they see them.
Of course, there is also an ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has impacted the number of press that are at the Capitol and much of the coverage is being shared via a pool arrangement between networks and print outlets. There are social distancing stickers within all the press areas for reporters and photographers to stand on.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Rules Committee that oversees the administration of Senate operations, told CNN Monday that she and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “deliberately” worked to reduce press restrictions and improve access for the duration of the impeachment trial.
Klobuchar said last year, during Trump’s first impeachment trial, there was an argument made to Republicans, who chaired the Senate Rules Committee and held the Senate majority at the time, that more security measures around the Senate were necessary because Chief Justice John Roberts was presiding.
“The argument was made when the Republicans were in charge that Chief Justice Roberts needed some extra security and he’s not the judge of this trial,” she said, noting that now Senate Pro Tempore Sen. Pat Leahy is presiding.
The Minnesota Democrat also argued there is “clearly enough” security, as the US Capitol complex is fenced in with razor wire on top, and still protected by National Guard Troops.