As former President Trump’s second impeachment trial got underway, reporters in the Senate chamber gave us a glimpse of what it’s like there, and described the scene when House impeachment managers played footage of the Capitol riot.
Here’s what they told us:
Sen. Pat Leahy, who is presiding over the trial, could be seen chit chatting with Trump’s lawyer David Schoen during the resolution vote.
Senators on both sides were seen turning away from time to time as video evidence of the Capitol attack played on monitors. The sounds of the montage seemed to echo a lot more in the chamber, filling it with the screams and yells of the mob – the same room rioters barged into just a month before. When the video concluded, there was complete silence in the chamber. When Rep. Raskin began to speak again, it felt like the room took a breath, binders were opened, papers were rustled, and people shifted in their seats, the pooler said.
Some senators appear to have come prepared after having experienced the last impeachment trial. Minority Whip Sen. John Thune brought an airline neck pillow for support. Several female senators were seen with additional scarves as it can get cold in the chamber, including: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, Marsha Blackburn and Mazie Hirono. Sen. Richard Burr was seen dropping a snack bar that was in his desk.
The senator’s desks have pencils, a water bottle, binders and what appears to be copies of impeachment documents. On the tables for the managers and Trump lawyers there are bottles of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes.
The pool reporter noted that most senators looked like they were paying close attention, many taking notes. Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, was writing furiously in some printed document. Lee took furious notes also throughout the last impeachment trial.
Almost everyone was wearing a mask except for Sen. Rand Paul, as CNN previously noted.
Remember: As CNN has previously reported, mask-wearing is not mandatory in the Senate. But almost all senators and staffers have complied with CDC guidance to wear masks during the pandemic on the Senate floor, with the exception of Republican Sen. Rand Paul. Paul has long argued that he’s immune after having Covid-19 early last year. It’s still unclear if those who have had coronavirus remain immune to the virus. Other senators, however, who have had coronavirus and/or been vaccinated for the disease still wear masks.
The pooler noted that there are two monitors in the visitor’s gallery that allow press to view the same footage that are on the screens. Leahy has his own monitor as the presiding officer.