Senators forced to endure hours of tedious speeches about President Donald Trump’s “high crimes” received a heads up from lead House manager Adam Schiff (D-CA): If you think you’ve heard it all before, just bear with us.
The California Democrat told restless senators to brace for some “repetition” on Thursday as the chamber reconvened for the second day of opening arguments in Trump’s impeachment trial, the Washington Examiner reported. Senators have grown visibly restless after back-to-back marathon days of argument.
Dems risk boring senators, public with repetition
While the media fawns over Schiff’s grandstanding, it’s unlikely that the Democrat will change the minds of Republican senators or Americans watching at home. A majority of Americans say that the trial won’t change their minds either way, according to a poll from the AP and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Since the outcome is expected by all parties to end in Trump’s favor anyway, Democrats have been reduced to rehashing the same talking points about “abuse of power” repeatedly.
To senators who have been given the job of weighing Trump’s innocence or guilt, the endless speeches come with a sense that they’ve heard it all before. Schiff acknowledged the redundancy of his party’s presentations Thursday when he asked for “some forbearance” from jurors in the Senate.
“Of necessity, there will be some repetition of information from yesterdays’ chronology, and I want to explain the reason for it,” Schiff said, adding that the Democrats would use videos to present the facts “in a new context.”
Restless Senators struggle through marathon trial
But Schiff’s warning is cold comfort to senators who are struggling to pay attention, or simply stake awake. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) spoke for many in his party (and in truth, maybe some Democrats too) when he said that Schiff’s presentation would be a perfect way to “bore somebody to death.”
Others were more sympathetic. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said the Democrats put together “admirable presentations” but that “there’s not much new here.” The rules are onerous, to say the least: no talking, no snacking, and no cell phones. As the days drone on, senators have been spotted doodling, reading books, and even playing with fidget spinners, journalist Garrett Haake said.
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) January 23, 2020
Will trial drag on to February?
The trial resumed Tuesday with 13 hours of debate that stretched into the early morning on Wednesday. The Senate reconvened that afternoon for the first day of opening arguments, during which Schiff claimed that aid to Ukraine was necessary to “fight Russia over there” and protect America from an imaginary land invasion by the Kremlin.
That sense of unreality continued through the second day of opening arguments, as Democrats reiterated their rationale for article one: that Trump’s withholding of aid to Ukraine is an impeachable offense under the Constitution. They will spend their final day Friday arguing that Trump obstructed Congress.
Democrats have been given 24 hours to make their case, and Trump’s legal team will then have 24 hours to respond, starting Saturday. If they use up all their time, then Trump’s lawyers could finish their rebuttal on Tuesday, and then the Senate will debate whether to allow more witnesses.
If Republicans reject the proposal, they could move swiftly to acquit Trump, but if not, the trial could drag on for several weeks more into February. Senators will get a break on Sunday, before the trial resumes Monday.
Democrats have about a paragraph of talking points to fill up 24 hours of talking. For the Senators’ sanity and that of the country, this trial needs to end soon.