Trump impeachment: Senators accused of falling asleep, playing games and reading books during trial

Peter Stubley
Senator Mike Rounds plays with a fidget spinner handed out to Republicans during the impeachment trial: REUTERS

A Republican senator appeared to fall asleep for 15 minutes during Donald Trump’s impeachment trial — while others were spotted doodling, reading books and playing with fidget spinners.

Jim Risch, representing Idaho, sat slumped with his eyes closed and his head resting on his right hand as the charges against the US president were outlined.

While independent cameras are not allowed to film proceedings, a sketch artist recorded the alleged doze at around 5.30pm on Thursday.

Reporters also claimed Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand also briefly fell asleep before jolting back awake in their seats.

Senators are only allowed to drink water or milk inside the chamber and are banned from talking to each other, eating snacks or using their phones or computers.

The restrictions prompted Texas Republican Ted Cruz to devise an impeachment drinking game: “Every time House Dems say ‘drug deal’ or ‘get over it’... drink a shot of milk!”

And Richard Burr, the Republican representative for North Carolina, handed out fidget spinners — a toy designed to relieve stress or boredom — to his colleagues at the start of the third day of trial.

He was later seen playing with a blue spinner while House impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler made his speech.

Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn admitted reading the book Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America by Kim Strassel during the hearing.

She claimed it gave her “good insights” into the impeachment proceedings, before adding that “busy mamas are the best at multi-tasking”.

Meanwhile Rand Paul, Republican senator for Kentucky, set about drawing a picture of the US Capitol.

Democrats are due to conclude their arguments on Friday before Mr Trump’s legal team begins its own case on Saturday.

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, said they could take up to three days, adding: “We’re going to use a sufficient amount of time to defend our case and point out the inconsistencies of their case. We’re not going to run out the clock.

“I am confident that whether it is (completed) Saturday or Monday or Tuesday that the case will be made defending the president. I have no doubt.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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