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Here Are the Weird Things Witnessed in the Impeachment Hearings

Fidget spinners, chewing tobacco, and WAY too much milk

Photograph via iStock.

Put 100 highly partisan lawmakers into a coffee-free, phone-free room for 10 hours a day and chaos is bound to ensue. Here are some of the strangest things witnessed so far during the impeachment hearings.

Senator Rand Paul worked on a crossword puzzle.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, ABC News’ John Parkinson spotted Senator Rand Paul working on a crossword puzzle, which was not allowed inside the chamber. Parkinson tells Washingtonian that Paul was “obviously trying to conceal” the puzzle. A Paul spokesperson told Parkinson “all smart people do crossword puzzles.”  

Actually, Rand Paul did everything but take notes

ABC News reported that Paul was seen Wednesday trying to make what looked like a paper airplane, though he did not appear to finish it. Paul showed little more interest in proceedings on Thursday, as he used his legal pad to sketch the Capitol instead of taking notes.

Senator Ben Sasse brought chewing tobacco

The Hill’s Al Weaver tweeted Wednesday that Senator Ben Sasse had been caught with a pouch of Red Man chewing tobacco on his desk. We could not confirm whether or not he actually made use of the Senate’s decorative spittoons.

Senator Patrick Leahy did a Gollum impression

Cell phones are not allowed inside the chamber, which led to some serious technological separation anxiety among the lawmakers. Politico’s Melanie Zanona reported Tuesday that Senator Patrick Leahy was so excited to have his phone back that he did an impression of the Lord of The Rings character Gollum, cooing, “my precious,” as he stroked his phone.

Senators drank way too much milk

Journalist Matt Laslo tweeted Tuesday about a Senate rule that allows only water and milk to be drunk on the Senate floor. Which led to a weird amount of dairy consumption during the hearings. Though Senator Ted Cruz technically started the trend late Tuesday night, Senator Tom Cotton enjoying two full glasses with a Hershey’s is likely what led Senator Richard Burr, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Senator Elizabeth Warren to follow suit.

Senator Marco Rubio had a quill pen

Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic tweeted Wednesday that Senator Marco Rubio had a quill pen on the Senate floor. Though Bobic said Rubio was using a normal pen for notes, courtroom artist Bill Hennessy’s sketch of the Florida Senator depicts him with quill in hand.

Senator Richard Burr gave out fidget spinners

CQ Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski reported that Burr gave GOP colleagues fidget spinners at his “Carolina Cookout” lunch Thursday. The spinners were spotted on the desks of Burr and Senator Tom Cotton, and got some use during the hearings.

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Nathan Diller
Editorial Fellow

Nathan is an editorial fellow at Washingtonian. Originally from Nashville, he graduated from Columbia Journalism School with a master’s degree in 2019. His work has also appeared in SPIN, NYLON, and Nashville Lifestyles.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.