U.S. senators mapped out an aggressive schedule for the impeachment trial of U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. They've started about 8 a.m. each day, stayed until 7:30 p.m. on Monday, when the trial began, and say they want to do the same until the trial is over — making for days that are much longer than those in a regular court.
But senators, who aren’t used to staying in one place during the day, have had trouble keeping to the plan.
Today, for example, the 12-member committee that’s conducting the trial recessed at 11 a.m., so that its members could cast votes on the Senate floor. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the committee’s chairwoman, asked her colleagues to return at 11:40 a.m. to hear more testimony before lunch. But only a few of them did, and seven members must be present before the committee can hear testimony.
“It doesn’t appear we’re going to get seven,” McCaskill said shortly after noon. “We have to have seven members before we can proceed.”
Senators will be caucusing with their parties during lunch, as they do every Tuesday, so the committee will not reconvene until 2:30 p.m. That will mean lawyers and witnesses will have had a three-and-a-half-hour break in the middle of the day.
McCaskill, hoping to stay on schedule, said she intends to be tough on her colleagues for missing parts of the trial. “You should plan on staying even later tonight,” she told the few who were there before lunch, “because I’m determined that senators realize that for every action, there’s a reaction.”
Among those who weren’t there: Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who was presiding over the Senate, and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who was trying to persuade senators to vote for his amendment to a small-business bill. Those who have attended all or almost all of the trial so far include McCaskill, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is the vice chairman, and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Each side — Porteous’ lawyers and the House impeachment managers — has 20 hours to put on its case, and the trial is expected to finish Thursday or Tuesday, with no testimony Friday or Monday.
This morning, the committee heard testimony from Louis and Lori Marcotte, siblings from Gretna, La., who operated a bail bonding business while Porteous was a state judge in Louisiana. Reiterating testimony that he has given in several venues, Louis Marcotte told senators that he often took Porteous to lunch and gave him gifts in an effort to influence the judge.