Politics

Apple Watches slip into Senate despite Trump trial ban on electronics

WASHINGTON — Strict rules prohibiting electronic devices on the Senate floor during President Trump’s impeachment trial apparently have a major exception: wearables, such as Apple Watches.

At least when lawmakers are wearing them.

Guidelines that the Senate’s leadership issued before the trial state that “no use of phones or electronic devices will be allowed in the chamber.” Senators must store their devices in cubicles outside.

But several senators have been seen sporting square-face Apple Watches on their wrists during the trial. San Jose Rep. Zoe Lofgren, one of the House Democrats’ impeachment managers, has worn an Apple Watch for at least two days.

A spokeswoman said Lofgren’s watch “has been on airplane mode” and doesn’t violate the rule.

Lofgren is “just using (it) as a regular, non-internet-connecting watch,” a spokeswoman for her office told The Chronicle in a text message.

Lofgren ditched her Apple Watch for Thursday’s trial session, when she wore an ordinary mechanical watch during her presentation. Her office didn’t immediately comment on the change.

The Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms, which enforces the trial rules, didn’t respond to requests for comment about the policy Thursday.

Apple Watches are similar to smartphones and can be used to send text messages, run apps, surf the internet, tweet or record audio. They don’t contain a camera to capture photos or video.

Roll Call reported that at least seven senators, six Republicans and a Democrat, have been spotted wearing Apple Watches in the chamber during the trial.

The rules have been enforced inconsistently: Journalists and spectators have been prohibited from wearing Apple Watches or bringing any other electronic devices into the Senate gallery.

Some lawmakers have expressed frustration with the trial’s strict rules. They are required to sit silently during marathon floor sessions and cannot consume food or beverages, aside from water, milk and candy.

Senate leadership hasn’t explained the rationale behind the ban on electronic devices, or why milk is permitted when other beverages, such as coffee, are banned.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Wednesday that she understands the need to keep senators focused on the trial and doesn’t mind the ban on cell phones and tablets.

“I think everybody is aware that we should give this full attention if we’re going to do our jobs and uphold the tenets of the Constitution,” she said.

Dustin Gardiner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @dustingardiner

麻将游戏大全