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Impeachment press pass pops up on eBay

Item no longer available on site by late Wednesday

Reporters wait in the Senate subway area as Capitol Police make sure anyone entering the Capitol has a pass during the impeachment trial on Jan. 16, 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Reporters wait in the Senate subway area as Capitol Police make sure anyone entering the Capitol has a pass during the impeachment trial on Jan. 16, 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:16 p.m. | At least one press credential granting media access to the Senate during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has been spotted for sale on eBay for $710. However, the item was no longer on the site by late Wednesday.

A media “overlay” must be paired with a hard press pass to enter the Senate portion of the Capitol during the impeachment proceeding. And, to get into the viewing gallery, the reporter must also have a ticket dated with the current day.

The seller, wheatcents.com, had been selling a ticket dated Jan. 23 along with the overlay, which does not expire.

The listing for the media overlay and ticket pair had received at least 14 bids before it was removed. A new listing for only the ticket dated Jan. 23 appeared on the seller’s eBay page late Wednesday.

The seller had removed identifying information from the original listing by covering the ticket number with a small piece of paper. Each overlay is numbered to quickly identify the holder.

“The piece of paper on bottom right corner of both credentials is to cover up the serial numbers to protect the identity of the office where both media passes were obtained,” the listing said.

Reporters go through security when entering the Capitol, a credential check when entering the press gallery and through a newly installed magnetometer when entering the chamber itself.

Several other daily tickets, all for previous days, have been listed for sale on eBay, but only one overlay has been seen. It’s not clear whether the tickets or the overlay are genuine.

Senate press gallery staff were working Wednesday night to identify the origin of press access overlay and ticket, reaching out to the seller and digging into their previous sales.

Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for U.S. Capitol Police, said the department does not discuss specifics but has a “comprehensive security plan in place for the ongoing impeachment trial.”

During the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial, Capitol Police launched a criminal investigation into use of counterfeit tickets to the proceeding. The suspects were passing off poor quality counterfeit tickets to unsuspecting tourists who lined up to get a coveted seat in the visitors’ gallery to watch the proceedings.

The office of the Sergeant-at-Arms is directly responsible for printing and distributing tickets, as well as providing security for the Senate itself. The Senate press galleries, which are run by the SAA, distributed the overlays to members of the media already credentialed with a hard-pass for the U.S. Capitol.

Genuine tickets to the Clinton trial turned into valuable commodities for collectors.

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