President Donald Trump continued his quest to force the U.S. government to serve his agenda this week with the revelation he would be declaring a national emergency in an effort to use executive power to get his long sought border wall blocking off Mexico built. Reporters trying to get answers on the move from Senators on Capitol Hill this Thursday were reportedly assaulted by police officers, who were seemingly acting as a barricade between the legislators and the public in an area that normally has no restrictions that would mandate such a presence.
At one point, Capitol Police physically harassed reporters including NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and an unnamed pregnant woman, and Buzzfeed News journalist Paul McLeod says the scene erupted into tension with “lots of yelling between reporters and cops.”
‘This is fucked. The police say they’re just “escorting” the Senators to the vote. In effect, they’re shielding them from taking questions. Never seen this before.’
After the altercation, things apparently died down, at least somewhat.
Still, The Washington Post‘s Paul Kane, who was also on the scene, described the set-up as “very odd.”
Capitol Police routinely confront demonstrators all around various federal government buildings, but the high profile MSNBC anchor Kasie Hunt explained that there was no breach of norm in the journalists seeking answers from Senators this week at the Capitol.
She asserted of the incidents:
‘This is simply not acceptable, and it is a violation of the norms that govern how reporters do their jobs at the Capitol. The area where this happened is open to the press, who are doing a constitutional duty in holding elected representatives accountable.’
Apparently, activist reporter Mike Stark prompted the showdown by getting in a lawmaker’s face earlier in the day, after which an unnamed apparent single Senator “complained about security.”
Lately, thanks in no small part to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the GOP has seemed to adopt hatred for most of the mainstream media as core to their party platform, although The Post‘s Kane did note that police seemed to be guarding “every” Senator. Still, Trump has specifically even endorsed physical violence against journalists before, praising Montana GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte for bodyslamming a reporter back in 2017.
Senators have certainly been accosted in hallways in high-profile showdowns associated with controversial pushes like the national emergency declaration before, but again, this time around, those who police targeted were simply reporters doing their job.
This Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump would be signing a national emergency declaration over the supposed crisis at the border after having threatened to do so for weeks on end at this point. She made the revelation as the government approached another funding deadline left after the president only approved temporary funding to get the government out of an earlier shutdown he sparked by refusing to approve anything without billions for a wall.
In coming days, she explained, the president would be signing a further spending package without provisions for the wall, but he’ll also be employing the national emergency declaration. He’s sure to face a tough legal road ahead of him — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has already said he’ll be suing.
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