Starr: Chief Justice Roberts Should Make Clear Trump Impeachment Trial Unconstitutional

Several Republicans along with lawyers for former President Donald Trump have called his second impeachment many things: Bogus, ridiculous, insane, petty, improper, and illegal. Democrats need to hear one more term, however, and they need to hear it from someone specific.

The term is “unconstitutional” and it needs to come from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, according to former independent counsel Ken Starr, who knows a think or two about impeachment proceedings since his probes of President Bill Clinton lead him to be impeached in 1998.

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The impending Senate impeachment trial of former President Trump “is a flagrant violation of the text, structure and history of our Constitution, and of the historical example of the Nixon resignation, and the cessation at that stage in the House of Representatives of impeachment inquiry,” said former appellate judge and U.S. Solicitor General Ken Starr Thursday in an interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast.

Starr, who represented then-President Trump in his first impeachment trial, suspects that Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts has opted out of presiding over the forthcoming Senate trial on constitutional grounds.

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“I’m going to draw an inference, and that is, the chief justice of the United States reads the Constitution and says, ‘I have no authority to preside. No authority whatsoever. In fact, it would be, I believe, a violation of the Constitution for the chief justice of the United States to come preside over the trial of a former president, because the Constitution is very clear: In cases of the impeachment of the President of the United States, the chief justice shall preside,'” Starr said.

In fact, Starr said he would like to see Roberts issue a formal response to ensure that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind (on the Democrat side and with the Senate RINOs) that proceeding with a trial (without Roberts officiating, by the way) is an unconstitutional act.

“Let’s have someone send a letter to the chief justice of the United States saying, ‘Excuse me, you have a duty to be here,'” Starr said. “And I would hope that the chief justice would respond in a formal way in these proceedings to say, ‘I do not have authority because this is not the sitting president of the United States.'”

Starr acknowledged that thanks to a vote forced through by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in recent days, 45 senators have already said they believe the trial runs afoul of our founding document and won’t vote to convict the former president (67 are needed; that would give the “ayes” just 55 votes, five of which are ‘Republicans’).

He added that he hopes all senators “of goodwill … who have taken an oath to defend, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, would take that second look and really leave, for once, politics at the bloody door, right?

“Just leave it at the door, read the text of the Constitution, reflect on exactly what’s about to happen, which I think is a pernicious — it’s not only unconstitutional — it’s a pernicious precedent, because as someone has recently said, and they were serious about it, ‘Alright, then let’s impeach Hillary Rodham Clinton. Oh, well, let’s impeach Barack Obama.'”

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“I think this is constitutionally flagrant and should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction,” Starr noted further, “which is just a fancy way of saying lack of authority on the part of the Senate because the president of the United States is not now the subject of impeachment. It’s a former president, they’ve lost their authority on January 20.”

He cited Nixon’s resignation in 1974 ahead of what likely would have been impeachment and conviction as precedent.

“Once Richard Nixon resigned, the House of Representatives stopped on a dime,” Starr explained. “They didn’t continue them, they didn’t debate, ‘Well, wait a second, we’ve had all these hearings. The House Judiciary Committee, bipartisan, has voted out articles of impeachment, we need to go on, and we need to make sure Richard Nixon never runs for any office again.’ Sound familiar?

“No, they stopped because they read their Constitution. The impeachment is about removal and then possible disqualification.”

Notice: This article may contain commentary that reflects the author's opinion.