Trump has called Chief Justice John Roberts an “absolute disaster” and a “nightmare for conservatives.”
Roberts, who is constitutionally bound to oversee impeachment trial proceedings, has publicly chided Trump for criticizing federal judges.
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he said last year in a statement.
He would be tasked with moderating the impeachment proceedings, setting the pace, authorizing senators to speak or stop speaking, and would decide on motions and admissibility of evidence. During questioning of any witnesses, the chief justice is the conduit for senators to submit their queries in writing, according to Senate rules.
“Experts in Senate procedure will no doubt offer him advice,” said Richards, “but the calls he makes are subject to reversal by the other 50 people in the room. He can make a ruling and 50 other people can overrule him.”
“This is literally an ancient and rarely used constitutional mechanism, and when things creak into life they take on a life of their own,” said Richards. “Not only are careers and legacies at stake, but they are directing the future of the country. And the normal rules may not apply.”