An Impeachment Trial That Could Unfold Out of Public View

President Trump’s trial will feature bitter debates and intense legal wrangling. Much of it is likely to unfold behind closed doors.

Comments: 122

  1. C-Span has served the public well for many years with it's impartial camera set-up. Excluding them feels like a horrible cover-up.

  2. @Virginia Burke The cameras in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate chambers are actually controlled and operated by the House and Senate respectively, not by C-SPAN. The feeds of those chambers are available for free and C-SPAN merely broadcasts those feeds. No other television cameras are allowed in the chambers except on special occasions (like State of the Union) with express permission of and close coordination with the House or Senate.

  3. @Virginia Burke if the cameras need to be turned off for real debate and investigation to happen? turn them off.

  4. What are they trying to hide?

  5. A secret, closed trial might have suited the expectations of ancient Romans, but if the leaders of the modern version of the Senate believe that they can cover the trial with a cloak of invisibility, they are mistaken.

  6. I wish they could vote with a secret ballot, that would be one way to assist in the ability to render an impartial determination.

  7. @Richard Bittner If they do that, then we the people will not know who to hold accountable and vote out of office in November. I know what you're saying, and it seems like a good solution. I think a better one might be to actually have politicians who don't lie--who actually say what they mean. Then we wouldn't have to look for the evidence that they said the opposite in the past. I can dream of such a day, but won't hold my breath. I am watching, and I need to see.

  8. For many years the congress has gotten more & more partisan & obstructive. And especially since Speaker McConnell made his famous declaration that the republican party would obstruct President Obama & on the night of his inauguration. And you know the results of that party position. Now to date, we have a party that has refused to do its constitutional job & has pledged its loyalty to a person. Loudly declaring that they will not even honor the pledge as a juror. Even tho they took that oath & we watched on TV. -- them prepare to commit perjury. The people will be watching to see if this is a fair & honest trial-- & if there are truly any statesmen/women in this congress. The fate of our country depends on it.

  9. Remember the republicans storming the closed door meeting room and eating pizza - now its ok to hide away?

  10. @Blue in RI Indeed Blue. Along those lines how about the Brooks Brothers Riot, the secrecy of the TPP in a SCIF no congressperson was allowed to bring their phone into, the chained-off "Free Speech Zones" that look for all the world like child cages. Republicans impeached over a dress stain—they were so spiritually offended by one lie back then. They presided over the near-complete collapse of the world economy in 2008. But they still have the myth of the party of keeping all your money rather than sharing, so people keep voting for them. I've written the list so very many times. The hypocrisy is so extreme I never will understand why there remain those who seem not to see it. The press fears the moneyed right. The right attacks them. But they feel very comfortable blasting the left, whom they know to be civil human beings who will not harm them. Unequal.

  11. As a mere foreigner, and not having American-English as my mother-tongue, what does: "a prohibition on senators talking on the floor" mean?

  12. If I am not mistaken this phrase lays out the fact that the senators will not be allowed to speak on the floor. They will not be able to share opinions and verbalize their thoughts or political leanings. If I am not mistaken, they will also not be allowed to have their phones with them which should thereby eliminate a lot of Twitter garbage during the trial. An odd phrase, no doubt.

  13. @Haraldth Senators are required to check all electronic devices, remain quiet and seated, and limit reading materials to only those pertaining to the trial during the Impeachment proceedings. In short, they must actually pay attention.

  14. @Kristi It means "This is a TRIAL and you cannot speak up while sitting there even if you're a Senator in this chamber." Much like the way jurors cannot speak during a regular trial. The also cannot talk with or confer with other Senators. They must sit there with their mouths shut. UNDER PAIN OF IMPRISONMENT, which means, if you open your mouth, you're going to jail.

  15. The Democrats quoted from the current session seem to be against closing the sessions. I disagree. The only way there is a hope of "impartial justice" is that at least the deliberations and final vote be closed--only then will Republicans be able to vote their actual conclusions rather than vote politically. Juries deliberate and vote in secret for a reason.

  16. @Leigh LoPresti conversely it will be behind closed doors so they can act without honor or integrity and not pay the political price for it.

  17. @Leigh LoPresti After posting my comment on the appearances of the closed door sessions after McConnell said the Senate would coordinate and cooperate with the White House in the trial and that there was no difference between in their positions combined with Trump's efforts to cover-up and deny access to information, I was going to follow-it up with a comment on the benefits of such sessions. However, since you already posted that and got a pick for it I will just piggy back here and agree that it is only in closed-door sessions where Senators can discuss without having to worry about their appearances with "the base". It's just too bad their votes won't be secret too. That is the only way a fair verdict could be rendered. If it were secret I would expect some Dems to vote against and some GOPers to vote for removal. I don't know where it would end up, but it would be fair. With the open voting, even with closed-door sessions, I feel the vote is preordained because even if some were to see that high crimes were committed their base will vote them out if they vote out Trump for committing them.

  18. @Leigh LoPresti - Sorry Leigh, although I would agree that closed deliberations normally make for more productive conclusions, you can't change the mind of a person in fear for their job. It will be a vote along partisan lines, because, in today's day and age, no vote will stay confidential for long. Distressing is how afraid these repub's are of trump

  19. First they need the procedural vote, which in Clinton’s case was 100-0. Then they should be able to meet in closed-door sessions without aides in the room to analyze and discuss the mountains of evidence. They can then meet together for testimony, new evidence legal discussions, debates, rulings and other pertinent matters put before the entire chamber. The politicians and public are impatient. There is a deadline with the primaries and election approaching. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren might be advised to prove themselves as leaders right there in the Senate chamber instead of on the campaign trail. This trial out of the glare of the media war of words is the last gasp for our country and an opportunity to show the world how democracy really works.

  20. I have no problem with some closed door sessions simply based on the idea that the contents of such deliberations are not barred from the public (simply left to individual legislators to explain). The posturing of the GOP during the House hearings demonstrated exactly the showboating, abusive behavior that can be reduced when they know the cameras are off ... and, importantly, can lead to a less partisan outcome by providing the moderate GOP senators the space to move to the right place in history.

  21. Of course they are trying to hide information. They don’t even want to have witnesses. Americans have good reason to be suspicious of all of this.

  22. @avrds Indeed. 58 witnesses had been taken care of in the process of the JFK investigation. "Americans have a good reason to be suspicious of all of this". You nailed it, "avrds". Taking care of witnesses seems to be the national pastime in the United States. Think about Bin Laden - a good example from recent history.

  23. I don’t think there is any doubt that there are enough GOP senators that could tilt the vote in favor of impeachment. Our country and democracy is by far the more the important issue at stake here. What politicians say in public is not always what is said in private. If giving them a bit of privacy to intelligently discuss the facts and build a consensus to impeach Trump I’m all for it.

  24. Well, Moscow Mitch did say the Senate would operate in total coordination with the White House and fully cooperate with the President as it represents him against the Democrats. And since has engaged in cover-up ever since this broke by denying the Congress the chance to hear witnesses how could this be a surprise. Even if it has been historically done before the fully stated expectations from McConnell and Trumps actions to cover up what happened only reinforce the idea that they have something to hide.

  25. After the whole ritualistic song and dance is done - with all its gravitas and ceremony - the powerful interests who gave wrested this country away from the people, hiding behind their Senatorial proxies, will maintain the upper hand... just in Time for our patriot Trump to deliver his State of the Union speech about what a marvelous country we live in.

  26. We need the fresh air. Keep the door wide open.

  27. Open or closed the outcome is already guaranteed. "First we'll try him, then we'll acquit him."

  28. @Peter and their names and votes will live in perpetuity. Generations will know which Senators ignored facts and voted to acquit a criminal President.

  29. Since everyone knows how the impeachment trial will end , its time to Move On .

  30. @Common Ground That's what the status quo would most like. So, to politely rebut your statement: NO WAY

  31. How could one man turn a healthy democracy into a Banana Republic? We had two parties, we had three branches, we had a "deep state," , we had free press--but now...we have have one party, all our branches are infected with one man rule, the deep state is now Trump's state, and the press, well we have one state channel, and all the other ones are merely documenting our spiral into a dictatorship.

  32. Senator Durbin and others: Make no mistake, we are paying attention and we have been doing so. When any Government entity elects to do anything in secret I, for one, wonder what that entity is trying to hide.

  33. @aging hippie and this is the crux of the problem..... nobody trusts government..... and yet we have to. right now we have a government run on popular opinion. it's not working. endless polls that tell us what the prevailing opinion is.....and this is affecting the choices of our leaders..... even the good ones. we don't know nearly as much as we think we do...... think about brexit. perfect example of "letting the people decide" a complicated issue meant for examination by people that understand trade. instead? the angry mindless masses had their way,

  34. If there were a secret vote in addition to closed sessions, there would be more candor. I feel a secret vote would get close to conviction, if not achieve the 2/3 necessary to convict. A vote over 50% or even 60% to convict would be very sobering for the prez and the country.

  35. @Looee I would offer the observation that when a senator or representative is serving his/her last tour of duty, they are often noted for doing surprising things. I would argue that having limited terms is a freedom for the person to do what they really feel. No beholding to the party. No fear of loosing their jobs. The elected official needs to put country before party.

  36. Always think of fallout blowback and unintended consequences. The senate has always been at odds with the egalitarian and Republican ideals of the country, a throwback to states rights and the Articles of Confederation. This impeachment could provided the needed impetus to redesign the senate in terms of the constitution.

  37. What the corrupt crony capitalist corporate plutocrat oligarch welfare are you talking about? When the ' lawmakers' in the Article I legislative branch of our constitutional republic are increasingly an American House of Ladies and Lords?

  38. CSPAN should cover the entire proceedings. Period. Else it is a coverup.

  39. There has already been reporting that McConnell denied the request for additional cameras to better view senators at their seats. Tough to act pompous when forced to sit in silence without one’s retinue. It was interesting to watch the range of demeanors of the 99 signing the oath book. Some made eye contact with the woman greeting each with a smile and graciously handing them the pen and steadying the oath book during the signing. Some politely handed back the pen. Others—who publicly fawn over “the people”—plunked it down and didn’t acknowledge her. The old saying that ethics is what you do when nobody is looking applies here. So much for the delta between cloaked versus observed behaviors.

  40. Go dark for what reason? To protect the process or to protect Trump? With McConnell as the all mighty ruler, the answer to that question will be to protect Trump. If classified information must be discussed, then yes, go dark if necessary. But if things get dicey, no way. We, the public deserves to hear the truth and deserves to hear how the Senators respond to the truth. The Senate is as much on trial as Trump is. Senators that lie for the president and ignore the facts in support of the president must be exposed. Senators that defy logic in their arguments must be exposed. Senators that openly disregard their oath to be impartial must be exposed. The Senate is now being tested to show the nation that it truly upholds the Constitution and the rule of law or that it is just an extension of the Executive, and a corrupt one at that. Going dark is how they want to cheat on this test.

  41. @Bruce Rozenblit "Senators that lie for the president and ignore the facts in support of the president must be exposed." I think, in the case of this impeachment trial, the truth or lie will be exposed by the vote as evidence of wrongdoing by this president and his cult-like following is overwhelming and growing every day. Thank God for our media. Citizens who really want to know what their government is doing in their name have only to read the many credible news sources. Too many, I fear, prefer the comfort of sources well known to support their bias and agenda.

  42. @Bruce Rozenblit i take a different view..... if the camera is on? they will violate their oath to appease the angry masses that are trump supporters. the trump supporters will not even notice this oath breaking..... but they would notice them breaking allegiance to il duce. i wouold welcome dead air if a few of these people would tell the truth.

  43. McConnell will gladly pull the plug as part of this massive cover-up.

  44. Maybe closing the door will allow republican senators to actually state the obvious without fear of a trump twitter smack down. Now if they’d only vote to evict him from the White House.

  45. This isn't a beauty contest or a job interview. We should see the sausage being made, however distasteful that might be. Since the Republicans have vowed to work hand in glove with the White House, every moment of the trial should be public and immortalized.

  46. If this were 1974, there probably wouldn't be an impeachment trial. Faced with overwhelming evidence of guilt the Republicans would have forced President Trump out of office just like they did to Richard Nixon. The difference this time is the weaponization of politics. If you go against Trump the entire Republican Party under his hegemonic control will make sure you won't be reelected and beyond that most or all of those lucrative Post Congressional jobs in the private sector as lobbyists, lawyers or businessmen working for the government sector will disappear. Your political and post political careers will be destroyed. So nobody challenges the Don. If you do, you get whacked. Controlling the cameras is all about making sure the party discipline remains intact, there are no traitors. Even someone as rich and as established as Mitt Romney has to worry about his family, his niece is the head of the RNC, and his state. Utah might get punished if Mitt betrays Trump. A sad state of affairs. Is the United States a democracy at the federal level? A weak one I think.

  47. @Yankelnevich I agree, but can we ask ourselves at what point should we want this to be true? Wouldn't we expect/demand that our elected officials only do the job in which they are elected and not a job that they covet after their time in office is completed? If politics has truly become an industry, then we have lost some of what we value in our Democracy.

  48. @Russell Smith --Let's face it--Once the Supreme Court allowed unlimited and an identifiable contributors to control our elections we not longer have a democracy--republic or otherwise. The lower 95% are serfs!! Look at your healthcare cost, financial institution, gerrymandering. etc. If I wasn't 80 I would be going else where. Hey, I did 5 Cold War strategic submarine missile patrols. Now we have a president in bed with the country I was protecting us from!!

  49. Secret discussions, arguments, proceedings. Supposedly leading to more honest, productive results. No tape/phone recordings, no video. Isn’t this exactly what lead to the impeachment articles? Isn’t this what those un-briefed members were just complaining about over the Iranian killing? Are they jurors, or the court? Is their oath serious or pro forma? If seriousness, honesty now depend on secrecy (see the Supreme Court’s no-cameras policy), is this the U.S., or Russia? This entire, outdated, trial (is it a trial, a tribunal, a political judgement?) process, created from the few words mentioned in the Constitution, from discussions among the founders, in an age of quill pens, parchment, wigs and lacy shirts- is going to determine who has their finger on a nuclear button? Maybe we should harness up a few horses, drag some coaches out of museums; will that add to the seriousness, promote a feeling of brotherhood to the founders, reminders of patriotism? Bring out those oil lamps then. My faith in this process is hanging by a thread. Shut off the cameras, bring out the scissors.

  50. This is good news, increasing press coverage in the Senate and the House is a huge problem with our government, transparency is overrated and has resulted in too much navel gazing and grandstanding. Turn off the camera’s, shut the doors, and get to work. Do this for normal legislative sessions too, just tell us who voted for what, that’s all we need to know. We need people who govern, not entertainers.

  51. @Jon Under normal circumstances I would agree with you; however, these are not normal circumstances. If there were some chance of reasoned discussion, I'd be the first to advocate closed discussions. When McConnell took the oath to be impartial, he committed perjury. He has stated that he has no intention of being impartial -- quite the opposite, in fact. Lindsey Graham committed perjury, for the same reason. Numerous other so-called Republican senators have also stated they will vote to acquit, no matter what evidence is presented. With obstacles like that in the way, there is little or no chance of reasonable debate, whether the sessions are closed or open. Even in a closed session, McConnell will have his gimlet eye on the proceedings, and it can be safely assumed that his observations will be reported faithfully to Trump. Might as well just let it all hang out, and we'll see -- for the umpteenth time, how little the the senators calling themselves Republicans deserve either title.

  52. I'm OK with secret hearings as long as the final vote is secret. How many Senate Republicans do you think would vote to convict Trump if they could avoid the presumed political cost? My guess is many. Murder trial jurors vote in secret...let the Senate do likewise.

  53. @Anne W.: IS the vote secret? i need to read more.

  54. @Anne W: looked it up. FINAL VOTE IS NOT SECRET

  55. They need to be able to discuss and negotiate what evidence--documents and witnesses-will be brought in without fear of individualized blow-back from the Trump Twitter machine and Fox et al. Otherwise Republicans won't be able to acknowledge the gravity of the evidence and abuse of power. I think privacy for that discussion is critical.

  56. @Mary Henderson could not agree more! i suddenly find myself an optimist about these hearings.

  57. trump wanted his life shown online and for all to see, real or not. Now we are supposed to think no coverage is alright?

  58. So republicans complained bitterly about the house conducting hearings behind closed doors. Hmm.

  59. @Vivien I'm pretty sure the House conducted an investigation, not a trial.

  60. @Vivien: the republican committee members were PRESENT in the house investigations.

  61. It’s interesting much of the coverage and commentary these days often refers to the fear by members of Congress of “losing their jobs.” The simple fact is the founding fathers did not — in fact, could not — conceive of such a manifestation as a professional politician. The concept was for civic-minded individuals to go into office for limited time to represent the citizens of their communities. We now have nothing but power-seeking, self-aggrandizing, self-important people in both parties who serve not to serve but for the profit gained. Just look at the wealth amassed by our senators and representatives while in office, not to mention the generous benefits and pensions enjoyed for life. Only term limits can begin to reverse this, followed by real and enforceable rules on lobbying and campaign finance. Unfortunately, it may be too late.

  62. Not sure why the GOP might shut down C-Span. It's not like their base is even aware of that channel.

  63. @Gichigami Exactly

  64. After receiving a subpoena for 10 years of business records, President Trump stated; "The subpoena is ridiculous,” on the White House lawn. “We have been, I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of the country by far.” Congressional Republicans demanded a long list of witnesses, especially Hunter Biden, during the House's impeachment inquiry. These same Republicans also complained about House Committees meeting in closed session, claiming secret deals were being struck, although witness testimony was released and open sessions using the same witnesses were conducted later on live TV. Oddly, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans now refuse to call any witnesses who they previously claimed would have exonerated President Trump of what are now articles of impeachment articles. Even stranger, they now want to conduct "secret" closed door sessions of the trail way from the public gaze. Transparency, fairness and honesty are apparently selective tools for the GOP. Republicans only want to be transparent when they set the rules for what We The People will see. Shame on Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans for failing to provide a transparent and fair Constitutional Impeachment process for all Americans to witness.

  65. At a time when transparency vs secrecy is at the heart of the impeachment, and the GOP's behavior, it seems especially counterintuitive to be playing by such rules. It's as tho they borrowed the concept of a Pope's election or the confessional from the RC Church.

  66. Anachronistic pretty much describes our president and the 63 million Americans who voted for him. We need to pull the clubs out of their hands and try to teach them about the human development that's gone on for the last 2.8 million years.

  67. Televise everything and let them be fearful of public shaming if they don’t do the right thing. Perhaps that way they’ll think twice about their decisions when they know everyone is watching. “Other former senators said the closed doors, combined with the inability of senators to posture for the cameras or the news media, led to more free-flowing and elevated discussion as lawmakers expressed their views without fear of retaliation — or today’s equivalent of a social media beatdown.”

  68. Senators need to have frank and honest discussions about this most serious matter. Unfortunately, politicians only hold discussions like that off-camera. Once the director calls, "Action!" you can throw frankness and honesty out the window. Let's face it. Many Senators don't want their constituents to know what they're thinking about removing President Trump* from office.

  69. You are using the drafting of the Constitution behind closed doors as and example of when secrecy is OK? Sure, it is OK when you are splitting from another country and fighting for independence. This hearing is the people of the country, who elected and pay for senators to do their job, having opportunity to see justice on the impeachment charges play out. Sure, less grandstanding with no cameras. But who speaks and what they say is of highest importance to those who count, the people. I think it is high time for those sitting in Congress to finally admit to who put them there.

  70. The constant transparency isn't working (in the world in general) and I support giving the senators a chance to talk about this in a straightforward manner without having to explain and defend every statement in a campaign ad later.

  71. If they're hiding, then they're ashamed of what they're about to do, or they're afraid of the consequences. Either way, it would be nice if they had the courage to be seen by their employers - us.

  72. Secret votes are one thing, secret proceedings quite another. Let's not confuse the two.

  73. What possibly less time in front of the cameras, no reason to pontificate if not on TV for the folks back home, maybe not televising congress would make for getting more done with talk and more work.

  74. While I believe transparency in gov't promotes good gov't, there is a need for a forum in which Congressmen can openly discuss issues w/o fear of being mis-understood or criticized for not following the official party position. However, it is naive to believe that Trump's control of the Rep Senate will not reach into a closed Senate hearing unless all Senators, including McConnell & Graham, are committed to keeping these private deliberations/discussions/debates private. Now, what would really be revolutionary is a decision to have a secret votes regarding witnesses and the ultimate decision of this process! Only then would the Senators have a chance to express their true opinions on Trump's acts and performance as President w/o fear of retribution.

  75. @Bob Parker You really think that groups of GOP from every level haven't been meeting? That, would be naive! Hopefully all officials are representative of a more intelligent strata of our society. What if the entire GOP has corrupted itself in the effort to save the party? Fear and greed are the driving forces here. Two obstacles to evolution over which baby boomers haven't demonstrated a mastery.

  76. @Bob Parker ---If the GOP wants to avoid Trump retribution--then they better Impeach him!! Has anyone asked them if they don't Impeach trump, what will Trump (AND Barr and Pompeo & all the other stoolies) be like next year--or God forbid--if he get re-elected for 4 more years. Let's put it this way--the Ukraine & Iran fiascos will be way down the list of horrible things he will end up doing to this country!

  77. My only thought is at what point do we tell ourselves that these representatives deserve the honor of the office if they need to discuss in private their feelings about the motion/impeachment in front of them? We bestow an honor and privilege to our senators and we are supposed to allow that they can only truly speak their minds if nobody is watching them? I would think courage is one of the most important characteristics we would want in these elected officials, but if we are then told that yeah courage is great but I need to have secrecy in order to discuss my true thoughts, then I believe we have elected the wrong people for this honor.

  78. The hearings need to be completely open. We’re talking about the future of our democracy and we all have a right to know what is being debated. Perhaps having open hearings will force some of the senators to show some civility, and if not, it will show we American people just how crass, rude, and disrespectful some of these people are. (Then again, Jim Jordan, Lindsey Graham and Devin Nunes may relish being in the spotlight and having another hysterical meltdown on national tv.) The type of censorship (i.e. blackout) senators are discussing is what the third world dictators they often criticize do when they block internet access in places like North Korea, Turkey, Iran and China to name just a few. Are the senators that afraid of what we may learn from open hearings? Do they have that much to hide?

  79. @Greg In a word, yes. They do have that much to hide.

  80. @Greg --- Why is everyone leaving out Putin's Russia??

  81. Modeling Iran, how sweet!

  82. I'd say keep the doors open. This strange man in the oval office has already been recorded bragging about sexual predation, lied thousands of times, been involved in many schemes now in the public record, dodged many other schemes also in the public record. This un-indicted co-conspirator - or Individual 1 - needs to take the stand, under oath, and display himself to the people who pay his salary, his employers, we taxpayers, we voters.

  83. Why does this article speak about hiding facts in the hypothetical? Several senators have made repeated public statements that they will not consider the facts and evidence, instead fully intend to be a mouthpiece for the president with the express goal of dismissing charges as quickly as possible. In what world is this justice, due process? Apparently this one and it is very sad, not even the NYT can call this kangaroo court out for the utterly disgraceful sham that it is. Who is left to advocate for the truth?

  84. You want an example of Republican integrity? And why they can’t be trusted? Think of Devin Nunes sitting beside Adam Schiff during the House Intelligence Committee hearings. He scoffed and scowled, and ranted about the “corrupt, sham” investigation of Trump. And now we find out, Nunes actually went to Ukraine to help falsely procure dirt on Biden.

  85. it's not like we're paying for it. wait a second...

  86. “I hope none of it is closed,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas." of course he does..... he is completely in the tank for trump. un-televised parts of these hearings may be the only time some senators will dare to express their true feelings about trump.

  87. The sooner American voters figure out that the country, its resources, its people - all exist to serve republicans, and help them amass power and wealth - the sooner everything will be okay. How dare we interfere with their looting and pillaging, their efforts to criminalize everyone else, or get in the way of them doing what they want? Freedom means giving them the freedom to control all outcomes in America; little else. I understand their chagrin. Have we got no idea about the expansiveness and control to which they are entitled?

  88. @Kalidan --With Trump and Mitch McConnell we we live in a medieval feudal state and the 95% are serfs! A contractor worker making under $12,000 pays almost 15% in Federal taxes and every dollar after that is at a 24% rate until it goes to 28%. Guess what rate the tope 5% pay and corporations pay--much. much less than 15%. Yet there isn't one candidate for president that is willing to talk about the real problem--Federal Tax Inequality!

  89. If I were behaving as irresponsibly as the Republicans in the Senate I would want to do it behind closed doors as well.

  90. The headline on this story on the front page/home page is incorrect. There is no "C-Span" plug to be pulled by the Senate. The cameras belong to the Senate and are under Senate control. C-Span, like other organizations, picks up this video feed and relays it to cable and satellite providers across the nation. This was part of the deal made when first the House and later the Senate, decided to allow broadcast and recording of proceedings on the floor of their respective bodies. Ever since this deal was struck, news organizations have appeals to both houses of Congress to allow independent, free roaming cameras to view the floor action. Every time, they have been turned down. The concern of members has been that they would be caught in awkward situations (sleeping, not paying attention, whatever) and this could be used against them either in news reports or campaign commercials when they run for re-election. So, the cameras remain under government control in a nation that prizes "freedom" of media, transparency in government and independent review of government actions. There are no C-Span cameras recording the U.S. Senate. Because that organization spreads the video across the country, this is a commonly confused point.

  91. Haven't we had enough cover-up and stonewalling already? This is a serious public issue and should be televised in full.

  92. It's *our* government and our elected representatives. The people have a right, even a duty, to see all of this proceeding from A-Z. Anything less is just part of the Republican cover-up.

  93. I’ve always thought that this posturing for the camera, often times while congress is in session but the chamber is basically empty, is the main reason congress gets nothing done. It seems as if there is no more thoughtful debate leading to a resolution of complex national problems. What you have is speeches before the camera to benefit some group or contributor. Then legislators and their aids run back to the office to get feedback from their benefactors. As for the Impeachment trial, as much as I would like to watch I’d sacrifice my viewing pleasure if the trial would be conducted seriously without political influence and based on the law and facts. Already they are discussing not having testimony, documents and witnesses. Of course without allowing evidence the trial basically a national joke. It appears that’s where we are headed.

  94. @James: i hope that in a trial, the presider, justice roberts, would shut the bloviators up.

  95. After receiving a subpoena requesting 10 years of business records, President Trump stated; "The subpoena is ridiculous," on the White House lawn, "We have been, I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of the country by far." During House Impeachment inquiries, Trump instructed staff to ignore subpoenas requiring testimony under oath, yet he claimed that testimony would exonerate him. This disregard of House subpoenas led to one article of impeachment, Obstruction of Congress. Republicans demanded certain witnesses, specifically Hunter Biden, during House impeachment proceedings. They complained House Committee meetings were held in closed session though they had members present. They asserted "secret" actions during witness interviews yet complete testimony transcripts were released AND those same witnesses were later interviewed in open session on live TV. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse calling witnesses knowing while some might exonerate Trump, others could validate impeachment. Even stranger, Congressional Republicans plan to conduct closed door sessions. Congressional Republicans do not universally provide transparency, fairness and honesty. They provide transparency only when they've set Committee rules, allowing them to orchestrate what We The People see and hear. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are failing to provide America with a transparent and fair Impeachment trail for all to witness.

  96. @Question Everything --re Trump's veracity--he said that no Americans were harmed during Iran's ballistic missile attacks. Yet 11 were sent out of country for medical care. How many Iraqis were harmed or killed? Their hasn't been a ounce of corruption transparency in Trump's administration.

  97. Be warned, America: Thanks to the laptop ban, this trial will be covered by reporters who may never have taken handwritten notes in their careers. I'll bet most of them don't even carry pencils, in case they get caught in the rain.

  98. @BKLYNJ: all journalists will be banned, if closed.

  99. Too much has already happened out of public view. Some of our representatives (McConnell for one) have already proven that they are not operating in the public's best interest, so we the people need to see and hear directly who is doing what throughout this entire proceeding rather than being spoon-fed third-hand platitudes. Trump's inflammatory rally speeches should also be printed in their entirety rather than being toned down in synopses by reporters with an outdated sense of decorum that doesn't fit this dire situation.

  100. This is the trial of the president of the United States. It should be transparent. We the people are entitled to that much.

  101. If the best argument for behind-closed-doors secrecy the authors can make is that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were drafted that way, we'd be fools to be persuaded. Not until the Bill of Rights did we citizens even have legal grounds to demand the transparency that a free press ensures. I've had it up to here with Donald's refusal to answer for his actions. McConnell and the rest of the GOP have brazenly denied us all access to the information we need. How dare they continue to say it's none of our business! Government under the cover of darkness is unaccountable.

  102. @ARNP ---Super point. Just think until a few years ago, half the amendments to the Constitution occurred right away in a block of 10!

  103. given the oft repeated claim by some republicans, that many say, in private, they cannot abide trump, then it seems to me the closed hearing could either empower their "allegiance" to a corrupt president or offer the chance to be rid of him. of course, the final vote is not closed. i think republicans are in denial about how most americans dislike this president and have no room for his continued unlawful ploys. he needs to GO.

  104. The hearings should televised, recorded and replayed throughout history. If it is behind closed doors then it is open to interpretation and biased media's coverage to tell the America people what happened. We need to see it for ourselves. The last thing I want is to read about in NYT is Trump's tweets about how the hearings went.

  105. Either way, I'd say "be careful what you wish for". The transparency for the people argument is understandable and a valid one until one realises that every enemy of our country will also be watching to find weaknesses and ways to harm. A delicate question, a delicate balance.

  106. @Si Seulement Voltaire --It too late---Trum's cell phone is available to every country. Notice he doesn't talk to Putin on his cell phone-his written exchange to Putin is then put on a secret server with a very limited access. Putin's phone call records are the things that should be brought into this trial!

  107. You can't really blame them, they don't want the public to a) know the truth, or b) see them sleeping.

  108. An accountable and transparent form of democratic governance is at stake here. Turning cameras off may make the proceedings less "broadway", thus more genuine and efficient. Doing so can't affect the accuracy and depth of reporting on these minutes on the floor which validate and demonstrate our democratic process.

  109. Without setting a clear agenda on witnesses, testimony etc. in advance, discussing the rules on the fly in closed session will create a conspiracy circus. Where are the clowns? Send in the clowns. Don't bother they're here.

  110. I hope they have a lot of closed sessions so that they can have good discussions and reached a genuine consensus. The votes themselves will need to be public but it will be after full discussions and deliberation (rather than just speaking to the cameras as the House did). Maybe they should do that more often.

  111. As this is a rigged process, announced by presiding Mitch McConnell, what difference does it make if they do their shady dealing in the open or in the dark? No chance on an impartial judgment, makes for frustrating bad TV anyway.

  112. Turning off the cameras and hiding behind closed doors? The first priorities in criminal behavior is to have no witnesses or evidence. This is so like the Putin Federation Council it makes me shiver with fear for our country. What are they ashamed of and hiding? These people have no guts!

  113. @Jack-- Actually they are unpatriotic with no respect for our democratic Constitution! Their primary loyalty is to the GOP and their donors. That is why the rich got a Trillion Dollar in tax breaks!

  114. Everything that the Republicans are doing is aimed at subverting the country and the Constitution, which they have been perfecting for 40+ years. They are constantly looking for ways to skirt the rule of law and anything that supports it. It makes sense that they want all of their corruption to be behind closed doors.

  115. Grove Obviously you didn’t read this article. The majority of them comments are made by democrats, they say the best of the arguments and discussions were held behind closed door. The Congress, both sides, love posturing for the cameras. The best thing would be to hold what is necessary behind closed doors and each side appoint a representative to hold a news conference at the end of each session. The two of them could inform the public with news of the day, that isn’t classified.

  116. All the votes will be recorded, so a closed session will only hide the fact that the Republicans want a whitewash of the crimes reported in the impeachment presentation by the Democrats in the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President (really! OMG) of the United States, which trial is pending. Maybe they will have a closed session when the Republicans present their defense of Trump, which will be a short, fact free discussion.

  117. The closed door sessions will merely match the closed minds of Republican senators as to the wrongdoings of their Master in Chief, the donald. They have already promised their allegiance to him and mcconnell, and the oath they have taken to perform impartially is superfluous to their interests and loyalties.

  118. I have a novel idea. Why don’t the Senators not play to the cameras and just do their jobs? Athletes play the game at hand without giving a second thought as to whom is watching. It’s a sorry shame that a Senator would worry about the image he/she is projecting by presenting arguments in front of all. Then again, consideration of having closed door meetings demonstrates this is a political affair, that is, unless U.S. secrets have a national need to be kept hush. Of course, that position opens up a whole new ball of wax to be dealt with. Looks like a big headache will soon be upon us.

  119. Congress has not earned the trust of the people needed to be able to conduct this trial behind closed doors.

  120. Only, cover ups and corruption happen in private. An honest person does not fear exposure! I don't understand why people, once elected to public office, assume a greater intelligence than they possess, over the intelligence of the average voter. President Trump is a good example of assumptions regarding good character and intelligence.

  121. Oh--When will a national journalist or politician explain that Trump will NOT be vindicated when the GOP acquits him. It takes 2/3 to Impeach and 2/3 to be VINDICATED!!

  122. My #1 question is, "Will Trump be able to resist tweeting about this event until it's over?"