Democrats’ ongoing impeachment effort against now-former President Donald Trump is crumbling, at least in the eyes of Sen. Rand Paul.
The Kentucky Republican told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Friday that if Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t oversee Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, the process will be “illegitimate,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Paul’s remarks come after the House voted 232–197 earlier this month to impeach Trump on a single charge of “incitement” for what Democrats have characterized as an “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as NPR reported.
But Dems knew the Senate wouldn’t be able to take up the matter until after Joe Biden was sworn in as commander-in-chief — and now, Paul says they may have missed their chance.
A “sham” impeachment
This is because Trump is now a private citizen, and according to Paul, Chief Justice Roberts has “privately said he’s not supposed to come unless it’s an impeachment of the president.”
In Paul’s eyes, Roberts’ absence renders the entire procedure moot. “It isn’t a real impeachment. It’s going to be a fake, partisan impeachment,” the senator told Hannity, according to the Examiner.
“[T]his is an illegitimate procedure,” Paul added. “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.'”
As the Examiner noted, the senator’s remarks echoed a tweet he put out earlier in the day. “If Justice Roberts won’t preside over this sham ‘impeachment’ then why would it ever be considered legitimate?” Paul wrote. “Hint: It won’t be.”
“If the Chief Justice isn’t coming, I think it’s an illegitimate procedure. It isn’t a real impeachment, it’s going to be a fake, partisan impeachment.”@RandPaul says the impeachment is “illegitimate” because it is not against the sitting president. pic.twitter.com/HVDJIEIc4D
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 23, 2021
The begging question
Paul’s complaints all boil down to a single question: Is it Constitutional to impeach a private citizen?
Legal scholars have debated on the issue, and while Paul’s position has been made obvious, a final answer remains unclear. Indeed, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would typically preside over a Senate impeachment trial, but as Paul alluded, reports suggest Roberts wants no part of this effort.
In any case, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, as NPR reports. A trial in the Senate is not expected to take place until mid-February, however.