As head of the House impeachment managers, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has taken a leading role in the first few days of President Donald Trump’s trial in the Senate. But on Thursday, the congressman’s remarks took an odd turn.
According to Breitbart, Schiff joked at the start of the proceedings on Thursday about senators being locked up for failing to follow the trial rules.
“I also want to again take this opportunity to thank the senators for their long and considerable attention over the course of the last two days,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said as he began his introductory remarks Thursday.
He went on: “Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the morning starts out every day with a sergeant-at-arms warning you that if you don’t, you will be in prison.”
A failed delivery
Schiff’s remarks came in reference to the 19th of the Senate’s impeachment rules, which makes disrupting the proceedings punishable by imprisonment. Each morning, the body’s sergeant-at-arms reminds the senators in attendance that they must follow the rules or face the “pain of imprisonment,” Breitbart noted.
“It is our hope,” Schiff continued Thursday, “that when the trial concludes and you’ve heard us and the president’s counsel over a series of long days, that you don’t choose imprisonment instead of anything further.”
Of course, not everyone saw the humor in Schiff’s awkwardly worded statement. North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows wrote in a tweet that he was less than impressed.
Adam Schiff starting off today with a joke about imprisoning Senators came off like a joke written by Jerry Seinfeld but delivered by George Costanza
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 23, 2020
Meadows’ fellow GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin (NY) had some similarly harsh words. “Adam Schiff kicks off Day 3 of the Senate impeachment trial threatening [s]enators with imprisonment,” Zeldin tweeted. “Not sure what he’s worse at: reading his audience or telling jokes. Either way he is not helping his cause.”
To date, no senator has ever spent time behind bars for disrupting an impeachment trial, but some have been arrested for political shenanigans.
More than two decades years ago, Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood was caught hiding out in his office as part of an attempt to prevent a quorum, according to a story shared on the Senate’s website. The Republican was placed under arrest and physically dragged into the chamber; Sen. Steve Symms, meanwhile, managed to outrun officers.
In 1942, Tennessee Democrat Kenneth McKellar also tried to block quorum in an effort to stall civil rights legislation. McKellar was reportedly tracked down to a local hotel and driven back to the Senate.