Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and his colleagues were sworn in this afternoon as jurors in the impeachment trial of former President Trump, even though it may be the second week of February before the proceedings get underway.
“In a sense, the trial starts today, but then there’s been a gentleman’s agreement on all sides with all senators that we would give the president’s defenders two weeks,” Grassley says. “They’ve gotta’ have time to prepare the case.”
House leaders delivered the single article of impeachment to the Senate last night, charging Trump with incitement of insurrection in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The Constitution stipulates the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice would be in charge of such proceedings. However, as the former president pro tem of the Senate, Grassley, a Republican, says he’ll be swearing in the chamber’s longest-serving Democrat, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who will instead preside over the trial.
“For a president, it’s very clear that the chief justice must preside and a year ago, he did preside,” Grassley says. “Now, it isn’t President Trump that’s up. It’s Citizen Trump.” Some are questioning whether a -former- president can legally be impeached.
“I suppose we’re going to be discussing among ourselves the legitimacy of even having an impeachment of a citizen,” Grassley says, “when the Constitution always talks about the president being impeached.” Grassley says it’s a “reasonable argument” but he adds, “I’m not a lawyer” and says he’ll listen to the constitutional experts who will be testifying about how to move forward.