Opinion | Senators should actively participate in impeachment trial

By Noah Nelson, Senior Columnist

The stories dominating every news outlet across the country recently include the coronavirus outbreak in China, the recent passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Since politics usually rule the news cycle, consumers hear and read about the impeachment even more so. There’s no doubt why. With this impeachment trial being the third to ever occur in our nation’s history (after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998) and with the 2020 presidential election ten months away, it should be an important event, especially for all of those involved.

Currently, both House managers and members of the president’s defense team are making their arguments in the Senate. One would think all senators, presiding over the trial as the jury, would stay alert and focused during the proceedings. With some senators, that is not the case, but they all should know the situation of America.

In the Jan. 29 issue of USA Today, Christal Hayes, Nicholas Wu and Savannah Behrmann explain in a lengthy article that some senators choose to do other activities aside from participating in the proceedings.

Instead of listening to Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida outline the evidence that led House Democrats to charge Trump with two articles of impeachment, Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho fell asleep. Other senators were caught doing the same including Independent Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. 

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Elected officials should not fall asleep on the job. Americans elected them to represent their respective districts and to think they are not doing the job required of them feels like a punch in the face. Maybe their constituents will think twice about them the next time they run for the same office.

As catching some shut-eye suited a few senators, others chose to eat during the proceedings. By Senate rules, senators are not allowed to consume food on the floor except for milk and water. 

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania played the role of the dealer as he was the only senator with access to food on the floor: a drawer full of candy. Many senators would stop by his desk for a quick Hershey’s bar during the proceedings. If senators think it’s okay to break the rules while holding the position, then maybe they shouldn’t hold the job anymore. Their actions do not put them in such a great light.

As the ongoing impeachment trial serves as one of many dark chapters in government and American history, senators, who play a crucial role in the situation, should not be able to do what they please. They should be doing the job their constituents elected them to do. They are the ones in control of the possible removal of the current president. The vote is scheduled for today.

Noah is a sophomore in LAS.

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