Senators Let Loose During Impeachment Q&A Session

Chief Justice John Roberts reads a question Wednesday during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Senate Television via AP)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Senators disregarded the rules of the chamber with particular flare as they entered the question-and-answer period of the impeachment trial this week, after seven days of arguments from both sides on the case against President Donald Trump.

Young pages crisscrossing the chamber passed cream-colored question cards affixed with the Senate seal from lawmakers to Chief Justice John Roberts, who read them aloud to the body. Senators posed 93 questions Wednesday, the cards piling up on the legislative clerk’s desk seated below the justice. The inquires picked back up Thursday with eight hours remaining for Q&A.

Republicans decrying the trial as a sham were routinely roaming the Senate floor. When seated at their wooden desks, many passed notes to neighboring GOP members or turned their focus to alternate activities as House managers and Trump’s attorneys responded to questions.

Senators on both sides of the aisle shoveled snacks out of their pockets and into their mouths, with Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., kicking off the munching just 10 minutes into Wednesday’s proceedings when he downed a mini pack of Skittles candies in seconds.

Seated next to Cotton, Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa., was spotted filing her nails on more than one occasion. Cotton at the same time fiddled with a large black binder clip, pinching it on and off his pointer finger.

Hours later, Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was seen chomping on gum, a tactic many senators employed to stay alert as the proceedings dragged late into the night.

Senator Thom Tillis, R-N.C., took a play from Utah Senator Mitt Romney’s book Wednesday morning when he became the second senator to order chocolate milk to his desk, a tasty alternative to the white milk that senators have guzzled on occasion at trial. The 100 lawmakers-turned-jurors are limited to milk and water on the chamber floor, per Senate rules, though the latter can come hot, sparkling or still.

Cellphones, while not strictly prohibited, were recommended by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to remain out of site during the length of the proceedings. But Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., darted off the floor into the cloakroom Wednesday evening when his device rang out, the first to go off during the historic proceedings.

Hustling to deliver a convincing argument in response to lawmakers’ inquiries, both the House managers and Trump attorneys sat at tables strewn with black case binders, yellow legal pads and copies of the Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz, former Harvard law professor and a prominent criminal defense attorney on Trump’s team, sat with a bulky copy of the Federalist Papers in front of him, the cover adorned with portraits of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.

Up and down the aisles, senators sat for hour after hour of questioning Wednesday in standard business attire. But McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., mixed it up, with the Republican leader donning a bright purple tie and Schumer a bubble-gum pink tie patterned with rocket ships and planets, paired with colorful polka-dot socks.

Nearing midnight, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who routinely circled the halls on breaks to speak with reporters, had slipped off her shoes and was seated in her Senate desk with her barefoot feet propped up on the carpeted foot stool.

Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan., was repeatedly spotted with a photocopied book stuffed into a folder that he routinely opened to read while leaned back in his seat.

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., meanwhile, dropped a one-page copy of what appeared to be two newspaper articles on his desk Thursday morning. Graham, along with several other GOP senators who abandoned taking notes at the close of opening arguments on Tuesday, sat with no notebook on his desk and frequently dipped out of the chamber into the cloakroom.

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