Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, which concluded in early 2020, was presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts.
With Trump’s second impeachment trial scheduled to begin on February 9, there had been speculation about who would preside over the unprecedented trial of a former president?
After it was reported that Leahy would preside instead of Roberts, some Twitter users put the blame on Roberts.
Jevon O.A. Williams, a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands Republican Party, claimed that the chief justice refused to preside.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the Senate pro tempore presiding “unprecedented,” asking how a juror can also be the presiding judge.
Article 1, Section 3, Clause 6 of the United States Constitution states: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.”
The Constitution requires the involvement of the chief justice only when the president is on trial. Since Trump no longer is president, there is no requirement for the chief justice to be involved.
In 2010, when former federal Judge Thomas Porteous was impeached, Senate President Pro Tempore Daniel Inouye presided over the trial.
Newsweek found no evidence that Roberts refused or was even asked to preside over the trial, nor does he have any legal obligation to do so.
The chief justice is required to preside over impeachment trials involving only sitting presidents.