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Senators use fidget spinners and stress balls to relieve boredom during Trump impeachment trial

Senators freed from phones during trial
Senators freed from phones during trial 03:27

After sitting through many hours of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, bored Republican senators figured out a new way to entertain themselves. Several have been spotted passing the time playing with fidget spinners while Democratic House managers gave their opening statements. 

The Associated Press reports Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Caroilna, passed around the fidget spinners and stress balls to several of his colleagues ahead of Thursday's proceedings. 

Photos and videos are restricted during the trial in the Senate Chamber, but sketch artist Bill Hennessy captured images of the fidget spinners. 

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Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C., plays with a fidget spinner during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.  BILL HENNESSY / Reuters
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Sketch of a fidget spinner on the desk of Republican Senator Tom Cotton.  BILL HENNESSY / Reuters

While Congressman Jerrold Nadler presented a portion of the Democrats' case, Burr was seen playing with a blue spinner, which was the only item on his otherwise bare desk. 

Other Republican senators, including Tom Cotton and Pat Toomey, had purple and white spinners on their respective desks Thursday. At one point, Cotton was seen twirling the toy on his desktop instead of spinning it between his fingers.

Senators are under strict no-talking and no-electronics rules during the impeachment trial. Many lawmakers have been spotted stretching and pacing around the chamber.

Some take frequent notes, including Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman, Kelly Loeffler and James Lankford. Others have been seen chatting in the back — Tim Scott and Ben Sasse, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo — disregarding the mandate to remain silent, CBS News' Grace Segers reports from the Capitol.

The fidget spinners have been viewed by some as a demonstration of Republicans' contempt for the Democrats' opening statements, but others see it as a harmless way to pass the time.

"They do last for quite a while," Senator Mike Rounds told reporter Nicholas Wu of the spinners. "Not that it might outlast some of the dissertation we have in there, but it might make the time go a little quicker."

The three-pronged spinners first gained popularity among kids and teenagers in early 2017. They are designed to be spun between fingers, both to relieve stress or boredom and to improve concentration. Schools across the U.S. banned the toys after they proved to be a distraction among students. 

House Democrats finish their opening arguments in the impeachment trial Friday as they try to persuade skeptical Republican senators to remove President Trump from office. The president's team begins its opening arguments Saturday.

-Julia Boccagno, Grace Segers and Stephen Sanchez contributed reporting.

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