Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy will reportedly preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. While the Constitution states that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must preside over an impeachment trial, Democrats are arguing that only applies to a sitting president. Leahy is the President pro tempore of the Senate.
Leahy's office said that a decision has not been reached over who will preside and that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is still finalizing the details of the trial, which is scheduled to begin on February 8, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"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," Leahy's spokesperson said.
Republicans are not happy about the reports, claiming that having Leahy preside over the trial violates the Constitution and is a conflict of interest because he voted to impeach President Trump during last year's impeachment trial.
"The Constitution requires that the chief justice presides over the impeachment trial of a president, but that's not what we're doing. To me, that's indicative of the fact that we're in uncharted waters," Texas Senator John Cornyn told The Hill. "I just think it looks very petty and vindictive, and I understand there are a lot of people who are mad, but the process itself already looks like a railroad job."
Several Democrats have called for Chief Justice John Roberts to preside over the trial.
"I think he should because it will be a straightforward, simple trial. I would think that the chief justice lends the dignity and seriousness it requires," Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said.
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