The way Senate Republicans are acting during Trump's impeachment proceedings would likely lead to juror removal in any other trial

The way Senate Republicans are acting during Trump's impeachment proceedings would likely lead to juror removal in any other trial
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) signs on to the Pennsylvania objection in the House Chamber during a reconvening of a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Some senators' behavior during Trump's impeachment trial would have them removed from a regular jury trial.
  • A handful of Republican senators didn't appear to pay attention to arguments on Wednesday.
  • A judge can remove jurors for not paying attention, being absent, or falling asleep.

US senators are jurors in former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial this week, but some of their behavior in the chamber would have them removed from a regular jury trial.

As the House impeachment managers presented their argument on Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul doodled, Sen. Josh Hawley put his feet up while reading briefs in the gallery, Sen. Mike Braun appeared to struggle to stay awake, Sen. Rick Scott appeared to study a map of Southeast Asia, and Paul and Sen. Cynthia Lymmis refused to wear face masks, according to reporters in the room. Several Republican senators were late to the proceedings, left for extended periods of time, or chatted with each other during the arguments.

In US criminal proceedings, jurors may be removed by the judge if they fall asleep, don't pay attention, or are late or absent.
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This is just one of the many ways the Senate impeachment trial differs from a regular jury trial. There is no standard of proof, punishment for the defendant is political and can't be appealed, senators will serve as judges and jurors, and all of the jurors were witnesses to the crime at hand. When it comes to the jury, perhaps the most important difference is that none of the jurors would meet the standard of impartiality required to sit on a criminal trial.

A slew of Republican senators paid close attention and took copious notes during the first two days of the impeachment trial. But others disparaged the process.

"I gotta listen to this crap," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, joked on Sean Hannity's Fox News program earlier this week. And after the second day of arguments on Wednesday, Graham said he thought "most Republicans found the presentation by the House Managers offensive and absurd."
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Senators on both sides have appeared to violate the oath they took to "do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws." But there is no way to remove a senator for violating this oath.

"The result of this trial is preordained," said Sen. Ted Cruz, who voted against the certification of the electoral college count following the insurrection. "President Trump will be acquitted. I think the trial is a waste of time and is the result of seething partisan anger on the part of congressional Democrats."
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