When President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate kicked off on Tuesday, the senators in attendance were informed of their expectations: remain silent and present for the duration of the proceedings, with no electronics or other distractions and only water or milk to drink. But not everyone was willing to fall right in line.
After a handful of senators were caught leaving the Senate chambers and even falling asleep during the hours-long proceedings this week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said those who couldn’t be bothered to pay attention should either step up or “resign tomorrow and go get another job,” the Washington Examiner reported.
“These people’s jobs is to do this,” Hayes told fellow MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, according to the Examiner. “This is literally the job. If you find it too annoying or frustrating or uncomfortable to sit for eight hours and listen, you can resign tomorrow and go get another job. But this is your job.”
Bending the rules
Hayes’ comments came after Maddow herself admonished the senators for failing to follow the rules.
“It is a little bit weird that we all thought it was within the rules that they had to be there,” Maddow said. “They had to attend, they had to sit there and not eat or drink anything other than milk or water, and they needed to not have their phones and they needed to not speak, but a lot of them have apparently been leaving for long stretches, including even some senators maybe even leaving before tonight was done. It’s odd and it’s not something I expected.”
Indeed, the Associated Press reports that both Republicans and Democrats were spotted napping at times while the House’s impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), delivered their opening arguments this week. Others were seen milling around, talking to colleagues or even retiring to the cloakroom for coffee and to check their phones.
Doing their “civic duty”
As for leaving early, Washington Post reporter Paul Kane tweeted that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, left the building entirely about an hour prior to the end of the proceedings on Wednesday.
This left Hayes furious. The MSNBC host compared the senators’ role to jury duty, saying that Americans often have to set aside their regular lives in exchange for a “meager amount of money” for doing their “civic duty.”
Maddow chimed in: “I mean, the Senate sergeant-at-arms starts every day by saying ‘upon pain of imprisonment,’ you know, you must sit there silently is effectively what he says, and then people get up and they go and do Fox News interviews in the middle of the trial, which means they are not keeping silent.”
Of course, Maddow opined, “everybody knows there isn’t a Senate jail — or if there is, they’re not going to use it. And it doesn’t appear that Chief Justice [John] Roberts is planning on intervening in the trial, even on structural matters like this,” she added.
To be fair, it makes sense for Americans to expect their senators to be present and abide by the simple, if rather uncomfortable, rules agreed upon at the start of the proceedings. But with Adam Schiff and his Democrat comrades droning on and on about the same things he’s been talking about for months, it’s hard to blame someone for not wanting to waste any more of their own time.
We all know how this is going to end, anyway — and it’s certainly not with Trump’s conviction and removal.