trump impeachment

How Senators Are Coping With Trump Impeachment-Trial Tedium

Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to the media during a recess in Trump’s impeachment trial. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The first day of President Trump’s impeachment trial was a long one for the senators who will, eventually, vote on his conviction or acquittal. For 13 hours, members of the upper chamber were tasked with listening to debate over the rules for the trial. They were deprived of electronic devices and forced to subsist on water and, if they wanted, milk. No snacks or coffee.

Unfortunately, there were no cameras allowed in the Senate to capture images of how the members passed the time. Even print reporters covering the proceedings had to turn over their phones. That means no reaction shots, GIFs, or memeable moments emerged. But those reporters, untethered to Twitter, did take notes about how the senators behaved as they listened for hours to very familiar arguments from House impeachment managers and White House lawyers. And then they were kind enough to share.

Some senators snoozed

Idaho’s Jim Risch earned the ignominious honor of being the first senator to be caught sleeping during the trial. It wasn’t just a cat nap either. He snoozed long enough for a sketch artist, working for the New York Times, to immortalize the moment.

He wasn’t the only one to catch a little shut-eye though.

Others went out of their way to speak to the press

During breaks in the proceedings several senators skipped the restroom and met with reporters instead. Ted Cruz commanded a gaggle’s attention before Amy Klobuchar stole it away.

Klobuchar, who is running for president, also jumped on MSNBC during a break.

At least one senator didn’t wait for a pause in the action to talk to the press.

They snacked

Joe Manchin “furtively munched on what appeared to be Goldfish”; Klobuchar, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott kept their breath fresh; and some filled up on extra water.

Bernie Sanders was impatient and annoyed

It’s his natural state, of course, but forcing Sanders to sit through hours of an impeachment trial when he’d rather be in Iowa appeared to make him even more restless than usual.

According to multiple reports, he “yawned and at one point tipped his head back on his chair”; “sat with an empty yellow legal pad, fiddling with his hands and shuffling in his chair”; and “pulled a tin of what looked like lozenges out of his pocket, put one in his mouth and read the back of the tin.”

RollCall provided some even more detailed play-by-play.

During Lofgren’s long speech, Sanders struggled to take a plastic wrapper off a box of mints or something similar. He eventually took his keys out of his pocket, attempting to muffle the jangle, and cut off the plastic. He then blew his nose and deposited the crumpled tissue on his desk.

They passed notes, did crossword puzzles, and broke rules

While chatting on the floor is forbidden, some senators took to passing notes back and forth.

That’s forbidden too. As is Rand Paul’s chosen method of staying busy.

Some even took notes

Oh yeah, there was an impeachment trial going on and some senators appeared to actually be paying attention to that. The AP reported on two of the most careful note-takers:

One of the most prolific note-takers throughout the proceedings was Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a centrist in a tough reelection fight this year. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of four Democratic presidential candidates forced back to the Senate ahead of the Iowa caucuses, held both a blue pen and yellow pencil in her right hand and alternated which she used to take notes.

How Senators Are Coping With Trump Impeachment-Trial Tedium