GOP senator asks tech audience for sympathy over Trump impeachment trial's no phone rule

GOP senator asks tech audience for sympathy over Trump impeachment trial's no phone rule
© Greg Nash

Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders repeats with NH primary win, but with narrower victory Senators press NCAA on compensation for college athletes Overnight Defense: Inside Trump's 4B Pentagon budget | Highlights include .4B for Space Force, preview of Air Force One paint job | Senate eyes Wednesday debate on Iran war powers | 109 US troops diagnosed with brain injuries from attack MORE (R-Miss.) on Tuesday asked an audience of technology experts and lobbyists for some sympathy over a rule that prevents senators from bringing their cellphones into the chamber during President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE's impeachment trial. 

Wicker, speaking at the tech-funded State of the Net Conference in Washington, D.C., asked the audience to "appreciate" what it's been like for senators to stay away from any distracting electronic devices for hours every day since the trial began in the upper chamber last week.

"I hope you do appreciate that we’re now six days into the impeachment trial and when we’re in trial, we can’t use these things on the Senate floor," Wicker said, waving around his cellphone during his keynote address. "Does everybody appreciate that?" 

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Senators are banned from bringing their cellphones and iPads into the chamber during the trial, which has left the lawmakers fidgeting and falling asleep as arguments run late into the night. Multiple senators caused a stir when they were spotted sneaking Apple Watches into the chamber, with reporters raising questions about whether the electronic devices with some smartphone capabilities crossed the line.  

"There have been no convulsions that I know of," Wicker said on Tuesday, discussing what it's been like to sit through the trial without any cellphones. Wicker is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees a slew of tech-related issues. "No senators falling down in the aisle and [going] into delirium tremors."

"Give us a little love," he said, "because when that gavel comes in and the chief justice walks in, we have eschewed these for — now the seventh day." 

"Wish us well," he said, to chuckles from the audience. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat Everytown plans ad blitz on anniversary of House background check bill Kentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNew York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat Hillicon Valley: Intel officials warned lawmakers Russia interfering in 2020 | Pompeo condemns Russian cyberattack on country of Georgia | Tech activists see Kickstarter union as breakthrough | Pentagon agency suffers data breach MORE (D-N.Y.) have told their colleagues that they must "be in attendance at all times during the proceedings," emphasizing strict rules that require the senators to pay attention during the hours of oral presentations from House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team. 

Updated at 11:14 a.m.