After indicating that he already considers former President Donald Trump guilty, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, is now attempting to walk back any notion that he is biased.
“As many of you know, I did not ask or seek to preside over this trial,” Leahy said in a statement released Tuesday during the initial hours of the Senate impeachment trial.
Leahy now insists the trial will be fair.
“My intention and solemn obligation is to conduct this trial with fairness to all,” he said. “I will adhere, as have my predecessors in the Senate who have presided over impeachment trials, to the Constitution and to applicable Senate rules, precedent, and governing resolutions.”
Leahy’s recent statements have caused some to doubt whether he can provide a fair trial. In early January, the senator said “President Trump has not simply failed to uphold his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, which itself would be sufficient to warrant his impeachment and removal; he has emerged as the greatest threat to the Constitution and to American democracy in a generation.”
The early analysis of the impeachment trial seems favorable for Trump. John Solomon reported Wednesday it’s now widely expected the impeachment effort will fail. President Biden has made a similar prediction that Trump will be acquitted.
Any decisions that Leahy makes can be reviewed by the whole body of the Senate. He plans to submit any constitutional questions that he has to the whole Senate.
Trump continues to remain very popular with the general public. A Hill-HarrisX poll has almost two-thirds of Republicans and more than 1 in 7 Democrats saying they would join a new party if one is created by Trump.
Leaders of the Democratic party have made the trial about the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which saw hundreds of Trump supporters breach the building, along with at least 20 participants who are suspected or confirmed to be from other organizations such as Antifa.
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., is among those arguing in favor of impeachment.
“He was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection — an insurrection where people died, in this building,” he said. “If Congress stands by, it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability.”
Additional reporting by John Solomon significantly undermines the narrative that the former president had anything to do with inciting the riots.
“Days before former President Trump’s impeachment trial begins, newly filed federal charges against anti-government activists offer fresh, compelling evidence that the accused perpetrators of the Capitol riots pre-planned their attack days and weeks in advance and in plain sight of an FBI that vowed to be vigilant to extremist threats,” he wrote.
Some of the rhetoric against the president has been extreme. Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., compared the event to 9/11: “Osama Bin Laden did not enter US soil on September 11, but it was widely acknowledged that he was responsible for inspiring the attack on our country and the president, with his words, using the word fight.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is among the outspoken GOP leaders who say the impeachment trial is not constitutional.
“This proceeding, which would try a private citizen and not a president, a vice president or civil officer violates the Constitution, and is not an order,” Paul said.
Alan Dershowitz, Trump’s lawyer during the first impeachment trial, said he was unimpressed with Trump’s defense lawyer, Bruce Castor, during his first performance this week.
“I have no idea what he is doing,” Dershowitz told Newsmax. “The American people are entitled to an argument … but this, just, after all kinds of very strong presentations on the part of the House managers … it does not appear to me to be effective advocacy.”