Republicans won’t be able to override 'wild card' Chief Justice Roberts during impeachment trial — here’s why
Republican Senators have already bragged that they have no intention of listening to the evidence against President Donald Trump during what should be a fair trial. Former federal prosecutors Jill Wine-Banks and Glenn Kirschner explained that the senators are supposed to be an impartial jury, but it hasn’t been the case. It’s for that reason the so-called “wild card” will be Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the proceedings.
Calling him a “wild card,” MSNBC host Chris Jansing said that “conventional wisdom” is that Roberts doesn’t have much power over the trial but Wine-Banks disagreed.
“I think it’s important to look at past history, but there’s been recent writing on this that suggests the word ‘preside’ has a meaning, and it doesn’t mean you sit there and accept everything,” she explained. “Now, it is true that a majority of the Senate can override any decision that he makes. So, it is a tricky situation, but politically, if the Senators override everything that Chief Justice Roberts does, then it would look politically really bad.”
Borrowing a phrase from former DNI John Bolton, Kirschner said that it’s unclear what kind of “drug deal” is being cooked up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Whatever it may, he said, will deprive the American people of having a fair trial.
“This is a case where the facts are so overwhelming,” said Wine-Banks, who served as a Watergate prosecutor. “If you’re paying attention to the facts, you have to draw a conclusion. Those are the facts without all the evidence. We’ve been barred, we, the American people, and the House, from getting all the facts.”
She explained that the White House has refused to produce documents and have blocked witnesses like Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo and Rudy Giuliani from testifying.
“I hope that Americans will demand a fair trial,” she said. “The president deserves a fair trial, but so do the American people. so let’s get witnesses.”
Kirschner agreed, saying that when criminal trials are picking juries, they look for people who can be impartial and hear the evidence before making a decision. That hasn’t happened in the case of the Senate.
“So what I would suggest is that everyone is entitled to a fair Senate trial,” he said. “That goes for President Trump, he’s entitled to a fair trial, but as importantly, just as the people, when we’re prosecuting cases, we as prosecutors represent the interests of the people. The people deserve a fair trial too. The Americans, the American citizens, deserve a fair trial.”
Wine-Banks also said that it was the second round of subpoenas in the Watergate trial where they obtained 64 additional tapes, that ultimately lead to former President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office. Given the House has passed the articles of impeachment, they could issue another round of subpoenas.
Watch their full conversation in the video below: