After U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts turned down an invitation to preside over the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the Senate’s president pro tempore, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was slated to take over the task.
Capitol Hill received some startling news earlier this week, however, when it was revealed that Leahy was admitted to a medical facility in response to a health scare.
“Out of an abundance of caution”
The Hill quoted David Carle, a spokesman for the senator, in saying that the 80-year-old lawmaker was “not feeling well” prior to the hospital visit.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the Attending Physician recommended that he be taken to a local hospital for observation, where he is now, and where he is being evaluated,” Carle added.
An update from the Leahy spokesperson confirmed that the senator received a “thorough examination” and had returned home following a review of his test results.
“He looks forward to getting back to work,” Carle said.
The longest-serving senator currently in office, Leahy is also the chamber’s fifth-oldest member. He was first elected in 1974.
“My constitutional and sworn obligations”
In connection with the impeachment trial set to get underway early next month, the senator made headlines for his leadership role.
Leahy addressed the issue in a statement explaining that the “president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents,” noting that the Senate leader “takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws.”
The senator went on to affirm that he plans to take his oath seriously and considers “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 his career in public office.
“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,” he concluded.
For his part, Roberts’ decision not to preside over the trial has raised concerns on Capitol Hill, but one Senate leader explained that it was a valid option, adding: “The Constitution says the chief justice presides for a sitting president. So it was up to John Roberts whether he wanted to preside with a president who is no longer sitting, Trump, and he doesn’t want to do it.”