Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump: the text of the Constitution only requires the Chief Justice to preside over the trial of “the President.” The text of the Constitution only requires the Chief Justice to preside over a Senate impeachment trial of “the President.” Trump is no longer “the President.” Roberts’s presence is therefore not called for.
Will private citizen Trump be the first private citizen to be convicted and removed from the office he no longer holds? This raises the constitutional question related to Roberts’s decision to pursue other interests during the Senate trial. I briefly reviewed the constitutional argument over the weekend in “Roberts rules.”
Today Senator Rand Paul raised the issue by a point of order. On Majority Leader Schumer’s motion to table Paul’s motion, 45 Republican Senators voted against. Voting against expressed their view that Paul’s motion was meritorious. While Paul’s motion was insufficient to dismiss or halt the proceedings, the 45 Senators are more than necessary to acquit Trump when the time comes, as it will.
Politico hedges its reading of the tea leaves and vaguely holds out hope that some of the 45 Senators may change their minds upon hearing the evidence. Senator Paul, however, kayoes this glimmer of hope: “If you voted that it was unconstitutional, how in the world would you ever vote to convict somebody for this?” Paul told reporters. “This vote indicates it’s over. The trial is all over.” It’s all over but the shouting, that is.