Chief Justice John Roberts is eager to avoid presiding over Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial – after he became a lightning rod during the first one.
Just as the Senate is seeking to ascertain how it might proceed with an impeachment trial without blowing up the start of Joe Biden’s term, the Supreme Court could face its own business being rearranged.
The Constitution states that ‘When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside.’
But with the Senate having been in recess since the House voted to impeach, the trial will occur when Trump is no longer in office – potentially giving Roberts an out.
‘He wants no further part of this,’ a Capitol Hill source told Politico.
Roberts has spent his tenure seeking to avoid becoming a political lightning rod – although he has drawn attacks from President Trump on occasions when he joined liberals to rule against the administration.
He became the focus of attention in January last year amid partisan clashes over impeachment, as Trump was tried following his phone call to the President of Ukraine where he sought an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
At one point, liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts sought to turn up the heat on Roberts by forcing him to read aloud a question that bashed the Senate Republican position of refusing to call witnesses for testimony.
Democrats were eager to call former national security advisor John Bolton and other figures to grill them about Trump’s conduct.
‘At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the Chief Justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?’ Warren asked in a written question.
Due to the rules of the trial, Roberts was forced to read the implied criticism of himself and others aloud.
There is no clear language on what should happen if an ex-president goes on trial.
Past impeachment trials of lower-level officials have had the vice president, who presides over the Senate, preside over the trial.
That could bring Vice President-elect Kamala Harris into a charged role at the… (Read more)