by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
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.
“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.”
Biden says he’d be OK with delay in Trump impeachment trial to get ‘up and running’
Roberts, who has not said publicly whether he will preside over the trial, has two more weeks to decide.