Rulebreakers and notetakers: Behind the scenes so far in the Senate impeachment trial

Some senators seem to have found loopholes in the impeachment trial rules.

As Americans watch the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that viewers aren’t likely to see on camera.

On a typical day in the Capitol, reporters sporting cameras and smartphones wander the halls of both chambers, hoping to catch lawmakers for their responses to the news of the day.

But due to restrictions on who can go where in the Senate during the trial, there are fewer cameras ready to catch those impromptu moments or senators’ reaction to the arguments from both sides.

But ABC News' team of congressional reporters and correspondents saw several notable moments throughout Tuesday and Wednesday's proceedings, including contraband like crossword puzzles and Apple watches.

Forced to 'unplug'

Under the rules of a Senate impeachment trial, no electronics are allowed in the chamber -- even though phones, laptops and tablets are a common sight during normal proceedings.

Cubbies were placed outside the door and in the Senate Cloakroom for anyone going into the chamber to stash their devices.

But some senators seem to have found a loophole, at least three were spotted wearing Apple watches during Tuesday’s arguments.

Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy cooed "my precious" as he retrieved his cellphone from the cubby outside the chamber, a reference to the Gollum character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy as he clutched his prized possession.

And Maine Sen. Angus King in jest posted a picture of an apple left in New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's cubby instead of an iPhone.

Rulebreakers and notetakers

The cameras broadcasting the impeachment proceedings don’t show the senators listening diligently to the arguments, but reporters in the gallery and outside the chamber noted a range of reactions -- including the challenge of staying attentive.

Republican Sens. Tim Scott and Ben Sasse appeared to be two of the chattiest senators.

They are seated next to each other in the back row and were seen passing several notes throughout the day. As the debate wore on, they began openly whispering, despite rules against talking on the floor during arguments.

Sasse even laughed a few times, with his mouth wide open. But they're keeping quiet for the most part.

Chief Justice John Roberts -- who is overseeing the trial -- did have to scold both the House managers and Trump's legal team during the debate.

Many senators were seen taking extensive notes during arguments on Tuesday, especially Sen. Susan Collins, who is considered a possible swing vote on the question of hearing from additional witnesses.

Senate sustenance

ABC News' John Parkinson noticed the Senate pages -- or high school students who help deliver messages to and from the senators -- seemingly racing to replace half-empty glasses of water without any encouragement from the senators on Wednesday. On Tuesday, they did the same, even earning a fist bump at one point from Booker.

That may have played a role in what appeared to be 26 senators away from their desks near the end of the first Democratic presentation around 4:30 p.m.

Sasse and several other senators were also seen snacking throughout the day during Tuesday's trial or chewing gum.

There are strict rules against food and only allowing water on the Senate floor, though it isn’t likely senators would face penalties if they sneak a cup of coffee or two.

According to the congressional record, the late Illinois Sen. Everett Dirksen asked if he could have a glass of milk brought to him as his lunch during legislative debate in a 1966 session. When he was told the rules did not prohibit milk, Dirksen said "water becomes pretty thin after a period of time. My lunch today will be a tall glass of milk."

While the Senate's official rules don't specifically say milk is allowed, a separate book of Senate rules and procedures called "Riddick's Senate Procedure" cites the 1966 incident in saying the rules don't prohibit senators from drinking milk while speaking, as was verified by ABC News' Benjamin Siegel.

Another exception is the candy desk where Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey keeps candy from companies native to his home state.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton appeared to be the first to take advantage on Wednesday, ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer spotted him drinking milk and eating Hershey's chocolate.

Passing the time

While most senators were taking their duties seriously, the Kentucky Republican seemed less interested, according to Parkinson.

Parkinson said he noticed Paul was using a piece of paper to cover up a crossword puzzle. The answers were uncovered to the left.

When Paul was prepared to write an answer, Parkinson said the senator briefly moved the paper concealing the crossword, revealing the breach in decorum.

A spokesman for the senator told him on Wednesday that "all smart people do crossword puzzles."

Siegel also reported the senator possibly working on a paper airplane.

ABC News' Trish Turner said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was spotted playing a game on paper.

On Wednesday, Dwyer noted several senators clearly consuming unrelated reading materials and printed emails.

Even Roberts appeared to be working on other matters during his long stretches on the dais. From above, you can see he's reading and marking up printed out emails and memos in a manila folder, Dwyer noted.

As the trial moves forward, more senators show signs of boredom or frustration with the lengthy proceedings. Several senators even moved to the back of the chamber to stretch their legs.

Some female senators were cozied up under shawls or blankets, as the chamber can be quite chilly.

At least one senator, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, was spotted slouched down on Tuesday in his chair during Democrats’ arguments -- appearing to be asleep. Reporters caught glimpses of other senators with their eyes closed or fidgeting with their pens or ties.

After 12 and a half hours of debate and votes in the first day of the trial cameras caught senators hustling to make the trolley out of the Capitol, skipping steps on the escalator to get back to their offices and presumably out of the building.

"I’ve never seen a madder dash from senators to get out of this place," ABC News' Mariam Khan said.

Notable names watching from the sidelines

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake made an appearance in the chamber on Tuesday afternoon.

Flake stayed in the chamber for about 10 minutes in the Capitol visitor’s section -- with members of the public -- directly across from where media sits. At one point, a member of the public tapped Flake on the shoulder, clearly recognizing the former senator, and the two chuckled about something.

He left a few minutes after that.

The former senator and fierce Trump critic announced in 2017 that he would not seek re-election. Flake has notably said that if the Senate held a secret ballot to remove Trump from office, more than 30 Republicans would vote to out him.

Actress and outspoken activist Alyssa Milano also tweeted that she was in the gallery for the proceedings.

ABC News' Benjamin Siegel, Mariam Khan, Trish Turner, John Parkinson, Katherine Faulders, Devin Dwyer, and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.

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