The past two days of the Trump impeachment trial have been devoted to questions from the Senators to the House Impeachment Managers and the White House counsel. It seems to me like many of these questions are proxies for statements by the Senators, who are supposed to be unable to speak during the trial.
For example, one of the questions this afternoon was something like
If President Trump is acquitted, what's to stop him from doing something similar in the future?
This is clearly a rhetorical question, not asking for legitimate information from the House Managers.
When the Senators ask questions directed to the Managers or counsel representing their own party, they seem mostly just prompting them to repeat statements that had previously been made during the opening remarks. In the rare cases where they direct the question to the other side, they seem to be baiting them to slip up.
And even when the questions are phrased as being about general legal or constitutional issues, the answers are given in terms of the specifics of this case rather than answering the question as stated. For example, I think a Republican question was something hypothetical like
Is it appropriate for the President to ask a foreign government to investigate a private US citizen? And what if that citizen happens to be a political rival?
The answer from the White House counsel started by saying that Trump didn't ask Ukraine to investigate Biden, and didn't condition aid on any such investigation. IANAL, but I think that in a real trial an answer like this would be judged as "non-responsive", and the witness would be instructed to answer the question that was asked. I think he eventually did answer the general question, though, but he mostly took the question as just an opportunity for more grandstanding.
I've been having a hard time seeing any legitimate point to this process, no new information is being revealed. They're asking questions they already know the answers to, and getting precisely those answers.
Is this all just for show? A time limit was put on the opening statements, but they've effectively been extended into this phase.
Was this to be expected? Was the nature of the questions similar during the Clinton impeachment trial? Were they also mostly veiled ways for the Senators to make partisan statements.