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Trump Trial Without Chief Justice Lets GOP Talk Optics, Not Riot

  • Chief justice offers no explanation in opting out of trial
  • Leahy, a Democrat who favors conviction, to oversee proceeding
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images 

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts’s refusal to preside over Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is giving Republicans an opportunity to focus on the Senate’s process rather than the specifics of the insurrection charge against the former president.

The Constitution calls for the Supreme Court’s top jurist to preside over impeachment trials of sitting presidents but is silent on what should happen for one who is no longer in office.