Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, admonished Trump’s team and House impeachment managers early Jan. 22 after the sides traded insults.
“I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said.
“One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.”
Roberts noted that in the 1905 Senate impeachment trial of a judge, a senator objected when one of the House managers used the word “pettifogging.” The presiding judge then agreed that “the word ought not have been used.”
“I don’t think we need to aspire to that high standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” he said.
Pettifogging means worrying too much about details that are minor or unimportant.
Roberts’s remarks came after House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) claimed that Republicans in the Senate want to cover up actions carried out by Trump by not allowing additional witnesses or approving requests by House and Senate Democrats for certain documents.
“I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a cover-up, voting to deny witnesses,” Nadler said.
“History will judge, and so will the electorate.”
He also said that White House lawyers’ arguments for not subpoenaing John Bolton, the former national security adviser, were “executive privilege or other nonsense.”
Pat Cipollone, White House counsel and Trump’s lead impeachment lawyer, responded by asking for an apology from Nadler.
“Mr. Nadler came up here and made false allegations against our team. He made false allegations against all of you. He accused you of a cover-up. He’s been making false allegations against the president,” Cipollone told lawmakers.
“The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you, for the way you’ve addressed this body,” Cipollone added, prompting some senators to clap. “This is the United States Senate. You’re not in charge here.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) thanked Roberts for his admonishment before motioning to table Nadler’s amendment to require Bolton to testify during the trial.