WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, president pro tempore of the Senate and the body’s longest-serving Democrat, will preside over the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Democrats announced on Monday.
Leahy will take on the role that is usually filled by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
According to the U.S. Constitution, the chief justice of the Supreme Court is to preside over the impeachment trials of any U.S. president or vice president. However, the Constitution does not address who is to preside over the impeachment trial of a president who is no longer in office.
Update 8:48 p.m. Jan. 26: Sen. Patrick Leahy was discharged after being taken to a hospital in Washington for observation early Tuesday evening after he reported not feeling well, his spokesman said.
Leahy, 80, oversaw the start of the impeachment proceedings against former President Donald J. Trump earlier Tuesday, The New York Times reported. Leahy has served in the Senate since 1975.
Leahy “was examined in the Capitol by the attending physician,” said David Carle, the senator’s spokesperson. “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.”
Leahy has received both vaccine shots for the coronavirus, and it was unclear what his symptoms were, the Times reported.
“After getting test results back, and after a thorough examination, Sen. Leahy now is home,” Carle said later Tuesday. “He looks forward to getting back to work.”
Original report: Leahy’s role will be the same as Chief Justice John Roberts’ was, with one exception: Leahy will not only rule on questions that arise in the trial — he will also serve as a juror, like the other senators, and will vote on the impeachment article.
In a statement issued Monday, Leahy promised to consider the evidence carefully and impartially.
“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents. When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws. It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously.”
“I consider 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 my career. 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.”
Leahy, who is 80, was an attorney before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1974. As president pro tempore, Leahy is third in line for the presidency, behind two women: Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
Trump was impeached by the U.S. House last week, making him the only president to have been impeached twice.
The article of impeachment was delivered to the Senate on Monday night. Senators are expected to be sworn in as jurors this week, with the trial set to begin on the week of Feb. 8.
The article read: “Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” the article of impeachment states.
It would take two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, to convict Trump on the article of impeachment. If he is convicted, it would take only a simple majority, 50% plus one vote, to vote to bar him from holding office again.
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