As Democrats plunge ahead with a post-term impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a key question remains: Will Chief Justice Roberts take the case?
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he won’t — making the exercise “a fake, partisan impeachment,” the lawmaker told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Friday.
Paul claimed Roberts has “privately said he’s not supposed to come unless it’s an impeachment of the president.”
According to the US Constitution, “when the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside” — a requirement not made for any other impeachment case.
As lawmakers debated the legitimacy of impeachment, the Biden administration continued to keep its distance from the issue.
“Congress is going to do what Congress does,” Ashley Etienne, Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director, told MSNBC Saturday.
One thing Trump enemies in Congress appear to be doing is grasping at straws — even reaching back to a post-Civil War amendment.
Several Dems have floated the idea of punishing Trump with the 14th Amendment’s rule that shuts those who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” out of elective office.
Chief Justice Roberts has two weeks to decide if he will preside over Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
“I certainly think there is a 14th Amendment avenue separate and aside from impeachment,” Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy told The Hill.
But the stricture, which was written to prevent former Confederate loyalists from regaining power as the United States struggled through Reconstruction, has not been used since — and would spark a long judicial battle if Congress attempted to invoke it, legal experts say.
Meanwhile, with Trump no longer in the White House, Republicans like Paul continued to deride the impeachment as “an illegitimate procedure.”
Roberts, who has not said publicly whether he will preside over the trial, has two more weeks to decide.
After the House of Representatives’ impeachment managers on Monday read their articles of impeachment accusing Trump of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot, the Senate will delay the trial until the week of Feb. 8 so that President Biden can get his administration up and running, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday.
If Trump is convicted with a two-thirds majority of the Senate, Schumer could call for a second vote, this one requiring only a simple majority, barring him from holding elective office again.
But conviction will require the votes of at least 17 Senate Republicans — an increasingly remote possibility, as more party members climb aboard Paul’s argument that only a sitting president can be impeached.
“It’s going to be tough to get even a handful” of GOP defectors, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told CNN — because “everybody has views that it’s kind of a constitutional concern.”