The West Virginia reporter who was arrested after shouting questions at Health Secretary Tom Price says he’ll fight the charges.
Dan Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day” that he thought his arrest at the state Capitol was unnecessary.
“I was just trying to do my job. I think that they really didn’t need to do that,” he said. “They could have told me to back off, to go away.”
Heyman, 54, said he was trying to get Price to comment about the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare on Tuesday when he was arrested and charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor.
A member of Price’s Secret Service detail signaled to Capitol police to remove him, according to Heyman. The police report says he was “aggressively breaching the Secret Service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him.”
Heyman told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he was apparently too close to Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Trump. But he said he didn’t realize she was there — he was only trying to talk to Price.
“I was certainly trying to get my phone close enough to Secretary Price to be able to get a decent recording,” he said. “That was all I really wanted, was an answer to my question. And I wasn’t trying to get into anyone’s personal space.”
Price praised police at a press conference on Wednesday, telling reporters that authorities “did what they felt was appropriate.”
“That gentleman was not in a press conference,” he added. “We were walking down a hall, and Capitol police acted as they thought necessary.”
Heyman said there was no meaningful distinction between asking Price a question at a press conference and trying to talk to him at the Capitol.
“Anyone who’s worked in this profession for more than a week has gotten involved in a situation where you try to get a comment from someone walking in and out,” he said. “It’s a public space.”
He said he’s now waiting for the next step.
“I’ve been told that the best strategy — and I agree with this — is to fight the charges until we know a little more about what’s going to happen,” he said.
If found guilty, Heyman could face a fine of at least $100 and up to six months in jail.