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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Trump impeachment: senators play and nap during the trial

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Media captionLIVE: Trump’s impeachment process in Washington

U.S. senators have been accused of falling asleep, playing games and breaking other rules during the impeachment process of President Donald Trump.

Jim Risch and Jim Inhofe are among the members who apparently nodded during long hearings.

Crosswords, fidget spinners and at least one paper plane have been spotted with senators.

The trial heard that Trump’s alleged abuse of power threatens American democracy.

Senators act as a jury to decide whether the president should be removed from office.

The upper chamber of the United States Congress is proud to be a sacred sanctuary of decorum.

But some of its members – Republicans and Democrats alike – have been accused by the US media of behaving like bored schoolchildren this week.

The rules stipulate that senators remain seated during the impeachment process.

But at least nine Democrats and 22 Republicans left their posts on various occasions Thursday, according to the Reuters news agency.

These included aspirant Democrats in the White House Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet.

Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, defended herself on Thursday after being spotted reading a book in the room.

He tweeted that the tome – How Trump Haters Are Breaking America, by Kim Strassel – “provides good information on today’s proceedings.”

“Busy moms are the best at multi-tasking,” he added. “Try it.”

Mr. Risch, a Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was seen collapsing this week with his eyes closed at his desk during the hearings.

A spokesman for the Idaho senator denied that he was asleep, telling the Wall Street Journal that he was only listening carefully “with his eyes closed or downcast.”

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Media captionA beginner’s guide to impeachment and Trump

Oklahoma Republican Mr. Inhofe was spotted Wednesday by an NBC reporter who appears to doze off for a brief moment before being pushed by Senator Todd Young, an Indiana Republican who sits next to him.

Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, was seen leaning on his right arm with his hand covering his eyes for 20 minutes.

On Thursday, Richard Burr, a North Carolina republican, distributed fidget spinners, a children’s toy, to fellow senators to help them spend hours in the room.

“I saw someone grab some of them, so they must have real anxiety about it,” said Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican. He said he didn’t need one of the gizmos.

Phones, laptops and tablets are a regular accessory during normal Senate hearings, but all electronics have been banned in the chamber for this process, leaving many restless.

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Media captionWhat does Ukraine have to do with Trump’s impeachment?

Pat Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, spoke as he drew “my precious” while retrieving his phone from the cubby outside the room.

Apparently some senators have found a way around the rigid rules by wearing smart watches.

Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, reportedly worked on a crossword puzzle and crafted a paper plane while Democratic prosecutors filed their case on Wednesday.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic first for the 2020 White House nomination, was spotted by an ABC News reporter who was playing an unspecified game on paper.

Speaking is forbidden on the ground during discussions and senators are warned daily by the Senate sergeant of arms to keep silent during the “on penalty of imprisonment” proceedings.

But on Wednesday, two Republicans – Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska – warned of the wind and started whispering after hours of exchanging notes.

There are also strict rules against food, but senators have been spotted munching on chocolate and chewing gum.

Press access to the chamber was severely restricted during the Senate trial, which means that there are fewer cameras to capture the unattended moments of the senators.

But other senators seem to pay close attention to the trial with some diligently taking notes.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio was seen scribbling with what appeared to be a quill pen.

Trump is only the third president to ever be indicted, but he is unlikely to be sentenced in a room controlled by his Republican comrades.

Before the discussions began on Thursday, some Republican senators claimed that they had not heard anything new in the discussions of democratic prosecutors and that they had already decided to cancel the president. To remove the Hon. Trump from office requires two-thirds majority vote.

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