High School Basketball Game Outdraws Senate Impeachment Trial

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 31, 2020 | 3:57pm EST
(Getty Images/Mark Wilson)
(Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

(CNSNews.com) - The varsity basketball game between the Gonzaga Eagles and the Good Counsel Falcons that was played in the Gonzaga gym—about a one-mile walk from the U.S. Capitol--drew a larger crowd on Thursday evening than the Senate impeachment trial did.

That was the case even though the Gonzaga-Good Counsel game drew a modest crowd--as Gonzaga won 79-55.

According to Gonzaga Athletic Director Joe Reyda, there was a crowd of about 200 at the varsity basketball match that started at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.

A count of the people in the Senate galleries, taken between 7:46 p.m. and 7:50 p.m. by this writer, indicated there was a total of approximately 131 people in the galleries at that time.

This included Capitol staff and security personnel as well as reporters and visitors.

The galleries above the Senate floor, as estimated by this writer, appear to have at least 500 seats. (That includes the seating areas reserved for the press and for the family and guests of senators.)

On Thursday, the Senate took a dinner recess from its impeachment proceedings that lasted from 6:39 p.m. to 7:37 p.m. The proceedings that day allowed senators to ask written questions of the House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s attorneys. The questions were presented—via a page--to Chief Justice John Roberts, who then read them out loud.

The 131 people present in the Senate galleries nine minutes after the dinner recess ended were not evenly distributed throughout the chamber.

During the 7:46 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. timeframe, there were no people at all in the gallery that sits in the northeast corner of the chamber. It is a space set aside for Senate staff.

In the eastern side of the gallery, which is for the family and guests of senators, there were 10 people.

In the visitors’ gallery, in the southeast corner of the chamber there were no people at all.

In the visitors’ gallery on the southeastern side of the chamber—facing toward the speaker’s podium at the front of the chamber—there were 29 people. These included 21 people, who were sitting compactly in three rows of seven of seats, where Capitol staff routinely rotated visitors in and out.

In the “Presidential and Diplomatic Gallery,” in the middle of the southern side of the chamber, there were no people at all.

In the “Special Gallery,” which is on the southwestern side of the chamber and which the Senate Manual says is “reserved for guided tours and other special parties,” there were 57 people.

In a small balcony above the southwest corner of the gallery, there were 6 people.

In the corner seats below that balcony and in the visitor’s section that runs along the western side of the chamber there were 9 people.

In the press galleries above the back of the chamber, there were 20 people—most of them concentrated in the front row, where they could have the best view of the proceedings taking place below.

Elsewhere in the chamber, people were not seated in the front row of the galleries for security reasons.

The number of people witnessing the impeachment proceedings from the galleries inside the chamber varied during the day on Thursday—in the times this writer was in the chamber.

But the chamber was never full.

At 2:44 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., for example, there was a total of 169 people in the chamber.

This included 0 in the staff corner, 19 in the section for the family and guests of senators, 0 in the southeast corner, 39 in the visitors’ section near that corner, 7 in the diplomats’ section, 31 in the special section to the west of the diplomats’ section, 9 in the southwest corner, 35 in the visitors’ section on the west side, 3 in the northwest corner, and 26 in the press galleries.

Less than an hour later, the crowd was significantly larger.

At 3:30 p.m. to 3:35 p.m., there was a total of 245 in the chamber.

This included 0 in the staff corner, 22 in the section for the family and guests of senators, 0 in the southeast corner, 37 in the visitors’ section near that corner, 5 in the diplomats’ section, 35 in the special section to the west of the diplomats’ section, 15 in the southwest corner, 57 in the visitors’ section to the west side, 32 in the northwest corner, and 42 in the press galleries.

At 4:15 p.m. to 4:20 p.m., the total number of people in the galleries inside the chamber had dropped to 212.

By 6:00 p.m. to 6:03 p.m., the total number of people in the galleries inside the chamber had dropped to 159.

From 8:15 p.m. to 8:19 p.m., less than an hour into the nearby Gonzaga-Good Counsel game, there was a total of 137 people in the galleries inside the Senate chamber.

That was up 6 from the 131 people who had been in the galleries from 7:46 p.m. to 7:50 p.m.

But by 9:34 p.m. to 9:36 p.m., the total in the galleries inside the chamber had dropped to 96.

By 10:15 p.m. to 10:19 pm that had dropped to 83.

When the impeachment trial adjourned at 10:40 p.m. on Thursday evening, there was a total of 66 people in the galleries.

This included 0 in the staff corner; 5 in the section for the family and guests of senators; 0 in southeast corner, 25 in the visitor section next to that corner, 0 in the diplomats’ section, 18 in the special visitors’ section west of it, 2 in the balcony above the southwest corner, 0 in the visitors’ section on the western side of the chamber, 0 in the northwest corner and 16 in the press galleries.

The Senate Manual lists the rules for the use of the Senate galleries, and stipulates who gains access to which areas.

“The visitors’ galleries shall be governed by the following rule,” says the manual. “The galleries over the western entrance to the Senate Chamber and over the southeastern, northwestern, and northeastern corners of said Chamber shall be set apart for the use of persons holding a card issued by a Senator.

“The period to which such a card of admission shall be limited rests entirely in the discretion of the Senator issuing it, except that such cards shall expire at the end of each session and cards of a different color shall be furnished by the Sergeant at Arms for the following session,” it continues.

“The Sergeant at Arms shall in his discretion limit occupancy of the visitors’ galleries to such periods as may be required to accommodate with reasonable expediency all card bearers who are seeking admission,” it says.





 

 

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