Senate Impeachment Trial — Sen. Leahy Expected to Preside, Not Chief Justice Roberts

Senate Impeachment Trial — Sen. Leahy Expected to Preside, Not Chief Justice Roberts

Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., August 5, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/Reuters Pool)

Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, according to reports.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), the Senate’s president pro tempore, will oversee the trial, according to multiple reports. The House passed one article of impeachment against Trump earlier this month for “incitement of insurrection” after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol leaving five dead.

Roberts oversaw Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020, in line with the U.S. Constitution’s directive that the Supreme Court’s chief justice should preside over a Senate impeachment trial of the president.

However, Trump left office on January 20 and the Constitution does not lay out guidelines for how to impeach a former president.

“Sen. Leahy is expected to preside at trial,” a Senate source told the Washington Examiner. “Senators preside when the impeached is not the president of the United States.”

A spokesman for Leahy told The Hill that the responsibility of selecting someone to oversee the trial falls on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.)

“Leaders have been negotiating all process issues about the trial, and all along we have deferred to them for any announcements about this and all other process matters,” the aide said. 

Leahy, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the highest-ranking senator due to his tenure — he has served in the Senate since 1975.

Some lawmakers, including Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) have pushed back holding an impeachment trial for a former president, as well as the decision to have anyone other than Roberts preside over the trial.

“There’s only one constitutional process for impeachment and it is of the president, not a president,” said Hawley, who has come under fire for his objection to the Electoral College results earlier this month. “It requires the chief justice to preside.”

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[By: Brittany Bernstein

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