The Democrat House impeachment managers on Friday concluded a third day of opening arguments, with evidence suggesting that, so far, impeachment has been boring Republicans, Democrats, and journalists alike.
The Senate impeachment trial began on Wednesday, after what was already a long day on Tuesday when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) forced a long series of amendments that lasted beyond 1:00 a.m. on the resolution setting the rules for the trial.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) was the only one seen nodding off on Tuesday, but senators were visibly tired on Wednesday, with Democrat senators caught appearing to be sleeping.
Within the first hour on Wednesday, Senate Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) was seen leaning on his right arm with a hand covering his eyes, according to the Associated Press.
“He stayed that way for around 20 minutes, then shifted to rest his chin in the same hand, eyes closed, for about five more minutes,” the AP reported.
Also caught appearing to nod off was 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT), according to Courthouse News:
Sanders could also be seen on more than on occasion nodding off, slouched in his chair with his chin bobbing down to his chest.
— Megan Mineiro (@MMineiro_CNS) January 22, 2020
C-SPAN’s Craig Caplan reported that senators off-camera were seen yawning and rubbing their eyes.
From inside Senate impeachment trial where Senators on both sides of the aisle off camera are seen yawning and rubbing their eyes as House lead manager Schiff began his opening arguments. Yesterday’s trial session ended at 1:50am ET early this morning.
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) January 22, 2020
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) left early Wednesday evening.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein leaves #TrumpImpeachment trial early on Wednesday night.
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) January 23, 2020
Journalist Yashar Ali noted the public reception seemed to fare little better.
“This is anecdotal of course…but I’m finding a lot of my friends are disconnected from the impeachment stuff. This isn’t one of those takes about the impeachment stuff being boring, rather they just feel exhausted and fatigued,” he tweeted.
This is anecdotal of course…but I’m finding a lot of my friends are disconnected from the impeachment stuff. This isn’t one of those takes about the impeachment stuff being boring, rather they just feel exhausted and fatigued.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 22, 2020
Thursday, when Democrats continued their opening arguments, there appeared to be more of the same.
Huffington Post’s justice reporter Ryan Reilly noted that more than a dozen senators on both sides of the aisle were disappearing:
Senators are getting pretty lax on attendance as the impeachment trial drags on. At one point I counted 14 empty seats on the Republican side and 13 on the Democratic side.
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) January 23, 2020
The AP reported that the Democrat House impeachment managers “relied on the same loops of videotaped testimony.”
“The repetition and the long hours in back-to-back days of proceedings have left some senators yawning, stretching and pacing,” it reported.
Yahoo reported that other senators were seen passing notes and doing crossword puzzles.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who had complimented lead Democrat House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Wednesday night, said on Friday the repetition had become too much:
I don’t know about you but it became mind-numbing after awhile. I got the general point you’re trying to make the fourth time you told me. So, they’re over-trying their case and I would just urge them to not do that because eventually it gets just hard to follow.
There were reports that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) handed out fidget spinners to senators.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) joked that he would yell something bad in the chamber to get himself escorted out by the sergeant-at-arms:
GOP FL Sen Rick Scott on trial: We saw that protester yell something bad about Chuck Schumer. I’m thinking about possibly doing the same thing so the Sergeant- at-Arms will take me out also. This is ridiculous. We’ve heard the same thing three days in a row.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 24, 2020
Some on the left suggested that it was a conservative narrative that the impeachment trial was boring:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) January 24, 2020
But TV ratings also showed that the impeachment trial was not resonating with the larger public either.
The television audience for Democrats’ opening arguments declined Thursday to roughly 7.8 million views during live daytime covering, a drop from 8.9 million watching on Wednesday, and a 29 percent drop from Tuesday afternoon, when 11 million had tuned in, according to Reuters.