In a move that has left many questioning the legitimacy of the impeachment process, US Senate leadership announced Monday that United States Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will not preside over the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump.
It was announced Monday that US Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who also serves and the President Pro Tempore and who is the most senior member of the Senate Democrat Conference, will instead preside over the trial.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, not Supreme Court chief justice, to preside over impeachment trial since Trump is no longer president https://t.co/ANAZrr443a
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 25, 2021
The choice of Leahy presents a clear conflict of interest that is two-fold.
First, Leahy voted to convict then-President Trump on two articles of impeachment during the first impeachment trial.
Second, the Senator from Vermont has demonstrated himself to be a partisan Democrat, making his presiding over any adjudication of an impeachment trial of a Republican tainted and illegitimate.
A spokesman for Leahy told reporters that the decision on who would preside over the impeachment trial was the purview of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), 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.
What’s this based on??? There has NEVER been an impeachment trial of a former president because the Constitution does NOT allow for it.
Also, Patrick Leahy is a stone cold partisan.
If Leahy will be presiding, any semblance of fairness or due process goes out the window. https://t.co/uFnr0ZLk1G
— Boris Epshteyn (@BorisEP) January 25, 2021
The Article I, Section 3 of the US Constitution makes it clear that not only is impeachment meant to remove a sitting president from office, but when a President of the United States is to stand trial on impeachment charges the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must preside.
In matters of criminal behavior – or alleged criminal behavior – on the part of a former President, Article I, Section 3 leaves no doubt that the purview of actions rests solely and exclusively with the Judiciary Branch, not the Legislative Branch.
Constitutionally, the US Senate has no authority to hold an impeachment trial regardless of who is presiding because Mr. Trump is a former President and cannot be removed from office. The argument of the provision of disqualification that can be attached to the impeachment of a sitting president is moot.
Some Republicans on The Hill have advanced these constitutional truths; that the Senate shouldn’t be trying a former-President and that only Roberts should be presiding.
“There’s only one constitutional process for impeachment and it is of the president, not a president,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). “[And] it requires the Chief Justice to preside.”