Chief Justice John Roberts To Skip Second Trump Impeachment Trial, Sen. Patrick Leahy To Preside
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) will lead Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Although the chief justice would be “the first choice” for presiding officer of the trial, Leahy said he was “up to the responsibility.” Roberts has not yet commented on the announcement of Leahy’s role.
In an interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “it was up to John Roberts whether he wanted to preside with a president who’s no longer sitting… and he doesn’t want to do it.”
According to the Constitution, “when the President of the United States is tried, the Chief of Justice shall preside.” Trump is no longer in office and therefore, Roberts is not obligated to preside.
Since the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump on Jan. 13, Roberts has declined requests for comment on his role in the trial.
During Trump’s first impeachment trial, House managers and the former president attacked each other, causing Roberts to call for them to respect Senate decorum.
He also cited a 1905 Senate impeachment trial in which “one of the managers used the word ‘pettifogging,’ and the presiding officer said the word ought not have been used.”
“I don’t think we need to aspire of that high a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts added about the situation.
Additionally, Roberts had to read questions related to the Trump charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The chief justice refused Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul‘s attempt to force him to reveal the whistleblower’s name who had altered congressional investigators to Trump’s Ukrainian telephone call, which attached political strings to the U.S. security aid.
Additionally, assertions were made when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) asked the following question: “At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding [and] Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence, contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court?”
Despite such assertions, Roberts has tried to maintain public confidence in the high court and his leadership during his time as chief justice, seeking to maintain an appearance of neutrality for the nine justices.
“We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability. But we should also remember that justice is not inevitable,” Roberts wrote in his annual year-end report at the end of 2019.