Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over next month’s impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Leahy said on Jan. 25.
Leahy is 80. Both parties traditionally choose their eldest member to serve in the pro tempore role, which is essentially a backup for the president of the Senate, whenever they gain a majority in the body.
“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents,” Leahy said in a statement. “When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws. It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously.
“I consider holding the office of the president pro tempore and the responsibilities that come with it to be one of the highest honors and most serious responsibilities of my career,” he said. “When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.”
The U.S. Constitution states that the Supreme Court’s chief justice shall preside when the president of the United States is tried in an impeachment trial. But once Trump left office last week, that threw Chief Justice John Roberts’s role into question; Roberts had presided over the first impeachment trial.
Reports suggested that Roberts didn’t want to preside over a trial of the former president. Supreme Court spokespersons didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment, nor did spokespersons for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Dozens of Republicans have voiced opposition to holding an impeachment trial for a former president; some have said that Roberts’s apparent reluctance to act as presiding judge is significant.
“If Justice Roberts won’t preside over this sham ‘impeachment,’ then why would it ever be considered legitimate?” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in a tweet last week.
The House alleges in its single article of impeachment that Trump incited the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol. The Senate expects to start the trial during the week of Feb. 8.