Senators bend the rules by wearing Apple Watches to Trump trial

The ‘smart’ accessory could give senators a link to the outside world during impeachment arguments

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, left, dons his Apple Watch as he talks to Texas Sen. John Cornyn before a Nov. 6 Judiciary Committee hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Utah Sen. Mike Lee, left, dons his Apple Watch as he talks to Texas Sen. John Cornyn before a Nov. 6 Judiciary Committee hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 21, 2020 at 2:04pm

Correction 7:03 p.m. | The rules of decorum state that senators can’t use phones or electronic devices in the chamber during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but what about Apple Watches?

At least seven senators had them strapped on their wrists in the chamber at the start of the trial Tuesday, despite guidelines from Senate leadership that all electronics should be left in the cloakroom in the provided storage.

Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah,  John Thune of South Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, James Lankford of Oklahoma, John Cornyn of Texas and Tim Scott of South Carolina all are wearing them on the floor. Also spotted with the smartwatch: an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

So, too, is Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner owns an Apple Watch, but it could not be confirmed if he had it on the floor.

Newer versions of the Apple Watch can have cellular capabilities, which means wearers can leave their phones behind and “call from the trail, text from the surf, or stream music from the slopes,” the company says.

Or, possibly, call or text from the Senate floor as well.

The Supreme Court — the standard bearer for banning electronics from the courtroom — does not allow Apple Watches inside the courtroom.

Among other features of the latest version of the Apple Watch, it “motivates you to move, exercise and stand” — all things that the senators are not supposed to do during the trial. 

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Todd Ruger contributed to this report.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of senators wearing Apple Watches. One senator pointed out his watch was simply square, but not an Apple accessory.