Democrats are desperately clinging to the prospect of convicting former President Donald Trump in a Senate impeachment trial, but the further the calendar moves on from January 6th, the less political will there is to pursue an already-retired president.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) threw even more cold water on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) plot by implying that impeachment should be dismissed because Chief Justice John Roberts likely will refuse to preside over the trial.
Rumors that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts doesn’t want to take on the impeachment trial have been swirling for some time. Paul pointed out via Twitter on Friday that “If Justice Roberts won’t preside over this sham ‘impeachment’ then why would it ever be considered legitimate? Hint: It won’t be.”
Later the same day, Paul explained to Fox host Sean Hannity that he believes the Senate impeachment trial will be a “fake, partisan impeachment” without Roberts’ presence.
The debate over whether an individual can be impeached while not holding office is growing as the Senate gears up to take on the trial in February.
“The story is,” Paul told Hannity, “that the chief justice is not going to be asked, but the reason he’s not going to be asked is he’s privately said he’s not supposed to come unless it’s an impeachment of the president.”
“So, this is an illegitimate procedure,” he remarked. “And even the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who’s not a rabid Trump person, who’s actually, if anything, sort of in the middle, he is now saying this is illegitimate because I’m not getting in the middle of this and I’m not coming over for this.”
If Roberts refuses to preside over the impeachment trial, the duty would likely pass to Vice President Kamala Harris, though Yale law and political science professor Bruce Ackerman wrote in the Boston Globe on Friday that Harris should also recuse herself and allow the Judiciary Committee to do the work.
In contrast to Roberts, Harris has gained her position as a result of the very election that Trump is condemning as “rigged.” It would be even more inappropriate for the evidence submitted by Trump’s lawyers to be judged by a triumphant member of the Biden team. Whenever she disqualified their so-called evidence as fact-free, it will become that much harder for Biden to succeed in “bringing all Americans together.”