A CongressDaily reporter was physically restrained by a man accompanying CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta on Thursday after Panetta’s confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.
Chris Strohm said he and five or so other reporters were waiting in a Dirksen Senate Office Building hallway when Panetta emerged from a room. The reporter asked Panetta if he would take a couple of questions and received no response; Strohm asked again and Panetta turned to him, saying he wasn’t taking questions at the time, Strohm said.
"Almost instantaneous[ly]," he said, a man walking with Panetta grabbed Strohm’s arm and pushed him to the side. Strohm said he responded by asking the man not to touch him. The man said something to the effect of, "You’ll move when I tell you to move," the reporter recalled.
Strohm said the man wasn’t particularly forceful — he said he’s "had worse happen" to him while reporting a story — but the incident was "not the normal way of interacting with the media." Once Panetta said he wasn’t taking questions, that would have been the end of it, Strohm said.
A representative from The Panetta Institute, the public policy center headed by the director-designate, declined to comment.
Strohm said he was looking into finding out the identity of the man and that CongressDaily plans to file a letter of complaint with the White House.