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Senators won’t be trusted to keep eyes off their phones during Trump impeachment trial

Senators won’t be trusted to keep eyes off their phones during Trump impeachment trial


What are they, twelve?

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Speaker Pelosi Announces Impeachment Managers, Signs And Transmits Articles To Senate For Trial
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has been impeached, and his trial in the US Senate is expected to begin in earnest on January 21st. Don’t expect to see any Senators tweeting @ Trump from the proceedings, though — because they’ll have to leave their phones at the door.

Tablets and laptops can’t come along for the ride, either: according to an official sheet of “Decorum Guidelines” for Trump’s impeachment obtained by CNN, there will be no “electronic devices” allowed. They’ll have to be stored in the cloakroom outside the proceedings, apparently in a special new cabinet for that purpose.

“I just saw a piece of cabinetry in the cloakroom where we will be required to turn over our iPads and our iPhones,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), according to The Hill.

Does that mean Trump will be without his phone and ability to tweet as well? That’s not clear, as most of the rules seem to apply specifically to senators, including a rule that keeps them from talking to their neighbors during the trial.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) seems happy with the arrangement: “Paying attention is significant and important and I’m glad that we can put these devices down. I’m glad we will be sitting in our chairs, I’m glad that we are going to be focused on what’s in front of us at that time. I think it’s important, it’s beautifully old fashion, and I think we should stick to it,” she said, according to CNN.

The Senate has a long-standing policy against photos from inside its chambers, but it looks like the press will be getting even less access to senators than usual — they’ll reportedly be restricted to a second-floor press gallery without any electronic devices, be swept with a magnetometer every time they enter or exit, and not be allowed to walk with senators in the building:

Not every senator approves of the press restrictions, according to Politico, including some Republicans.

My colleague Makena Kelly reminds me that phone use got stricter in the House of Representatives, too, after members started livestreaming a gun control sit-in in 2016. Speaker Paul Ryan proposed harsh penalties at the time.