At 4 p.m., just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was finishing his remarks, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) walked onto the floor on the Democratic side of the aisle, went straight to the desk of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and touched his arm.
The Democrats whispered to one another and Manchin stood up and hugged her. In a brief break before the trial formally began, Manchin’s Democratic colleagues came over to him in the back of the chamber, hugging him, patting him on the back — finally aware that he would join them in a united caucus vote to remove Trump from office.
As the session began, the public galleries were packed — not quite completely full, but the most crowded they have been during the trial. More than a half dozen spouses were on hand, including Jane Sanders and Marcelle Leahy, wives of Vermont’s Sens. Bernie Sanders (I) and Patrick J. Leahy (D), as well as Connie Schultz, the wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
The back benches on the chamber floor, reserved for members of the House who wanted to attend the trial, were filled with lawmakers from both parties.
As the deputy sergeant at arms called out “hear ye, hear ye” to start the services, Romney slipped into the chamber, one of the last senators to arrive. He stared straight ahead throughout the roll call, occasionally sipping water. Across the chamber, as the last remaining senator whose vote was unknown to the public, Manchin did the same.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, sat in the first chair of their table, turned at a three-quarters position so that he could swivel his head around the chamber with every senator’s name called out. When each of the two roll calls ended, he pivoted around to stare at the clerks and parliamentarians as they double-checked votes that he was certain to lose, waiting until Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. read out each vote: 48-52, 47-53.
Among the Democrats, Norm Eisen, a senior counsel on the House Judiciary Committee, kept the vote tally sheet for their side, while Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and a legal aide scribbled down the votes of each senator.
After receiving the “golden gavel,” an honor awarded to freshman senators after they have overseen at least 100 hours of Senate debate, Roberts left the chamber, escorted out by four senators. A couple of minutes later, Schiff and his team departed.