Left Menu
Development News Edition

Unclear who presides at Trump trial if he's out of office

Whittington said he thinks that could happen, as with the impeachment of any officer other than the president. But he said he can imagine that the Senate might go the other way and treat a former president the same as a sitting president. University of Texas law professor Steven Vladeck said the chief justice is the better choice.

PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 14-01-2021 22:27 IST | Created: 14-01-2021 22:27 IST
Unclear who presides at Trump trial if he's out of office

The Constitution says the chief justice is to preside at the impeachment trial of a president. But what about an ex-president? Like so much else about the Constitution, the answer is subject to interpretation.

If President Donald Trump's trial begins after Jan. 20, it's not clear whether Chief Justice John Roberts would make his way to the Senate chamber as he did last year for Trump's first trial.

Impeachment scholars, law professors and political scientists offer differing views.

The choices appear to be Roberts, Kamala Harris, who by then will be vice president, or Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will be the Senate's president pro tem once the Democrats gain control of the Senate.

The issue is “unsettled, completely without precedent, and unspecific in existing Senate rules and precedents,” Princeton University political scientist Keith Whittington wrote in an email.

One reason that the Constitution specifies the chief justice to run the president's trial is that the person who otherwise presides over the Senate is the vice president — the very person who would assume the presidency if the chief executive is convicted. That's a bit unseemly.

But if the stakes are changed and the sitting vice president no longer stands to get the top job, why not have Harris, who by then will have taken over for Mike Pence, preside? Whittington said he thinks that could happen, “as with the impeachment of any officer other than the president.” But he said he “can imagine that the Senate might go the other way and treat a former president the same as a sitting president.” University of Texas law professor Steven Vladeck said the chief justice is the better choice. The House on Wednesday impeached the president, not the former president, Vladeck wrote on Twitter.

“Indeed, if Trump resigned (or his term ended) mid-trial, it would be more than a little odd for the Chief Justice to give way to the Vice President. The question should be whether the impeached officer was President at the time of impeachment. Here, he was, so Roberts presides,” Vladeck wrote.

Another factor in favor of Roberts is that “a trial of a President (even a former President) is a momentous event and having the Chief Justice preside seems more congruent with, or more fitting of, the occasion,” Georgia State University law professor Neil Kinkopf wrote in an email.

If it's not Roberts or Harris, who may wish to avoid the appearance of a conflict that presiding over Trump's trial might inflame, the next choice would be Leahy, the senior Democrat in the Senate, Norm Eisen said on CNN. Eisen was a legal adviser to Democrats during Trump's first impeachment.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

China: A savior for emerging markets or a poison pill?

... ...

Future of Urban Planning: Artificial Intelligence guiding the way

Advances in emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can help us understand our cities better and derive useful insights from real-time data collected through automated models....

Videos

Latest News

Snow blankets sun-kissed Arizona, Nevada and California

There is nothing weird about seeing snow in January, unless it is falling on sun-kissed expanses including Nevadas Las Vegas and Arizonas deserts, which were transformed on Tuesday into winter wonderlands. Just days after Malibu, California...

Top U.S. Capitol security officials apologize for 'failings' in Jan. 6 attack

Top U.S. Capitol security officials apologized on Tuesday for failings during the deadly attack on the building by followers of then-President Donald Trump in a bid to stop the certification of Joe Bidens election victory. The officials spe...

White House adviser Rice says voting rights a 'real concern'

White House adviser Susan Rice said she expects President Joe Biden to address the right to vote in remarks later on Tuesday.Rice also said the White House will work with Congress on legislation to address voting rights, which are a real co...

Spanish PM appoints new health minister amid worsening pandemic

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez appointed Regional Policy Minister Carolina Darias as the new health minister on Tuesday after her predecessor resigned to run in an election in a move criticised by the opposition amid rising COVID-19 i...

Give Feedback