Roberts thanks Senate as impeachment trial ends

Roberts thanks Senate as impeachment trial ends
© PBS

Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday thanked the Senate for helping him carry out his duties as the presiding officer in President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE's impeachment trial.

Roberts described his role as one with “ill-defined responsibilities in an unfamiliar setting” in remarks shortly after the chamber voted to acquit Trump on two impeachment charges for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Roberts said he hoped to see the senators again “under happier circumstances,” and invited them to the Supreme Court.

ADVERTISEMENT

“As I depart the chamber, I do so with an invitation to visit the court,” he said. “By long tradition and in memory of the 135 years we sat in this building, we keep the front row of the gallery in our courtroom open for members of Congress who might want to drop by to see an argument, or escape one.”

Roberts, who is constitutionally obligated to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of a president, played a mostly ceremonial role since his Jan. 16 swearing-in.

His performance earned him bipartisan applause in the chamber on Wednesday, as well as a golden gavel, which was also bestowed upon Roberts’s late mentor Chief Justice William Rehnquist after presiding over the impeachment trial of President Clinton. 

“I think we can agree that the chief justice put in his due, and then some,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Schumer praises choice of Defense inspector general to oversee corporate lending fund MORE (R-Ky.) said, before a congressional page walked to the well of the Senate to deliver the gavel to Roberts.

In his role as presiding officer, Roberts strove to avoid being drawn the partisan fights that marked the trial.

He avoided casting a tie-breaking vote on the crucial issue of whether to allow witnesses, which was voted down by a razor-thin majority. He also declined to read aloud a question from Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse chairwoman diagnosed with 'presumed' coronavirus infection Capitol officials extend suspension of tourist access until May Second Capitol Police officer tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) that would have outed a whistleblower who helped set in motion the impeachment.

Roberts also expressed gratitude for the “unfailing patience” of the Senate parliamentarian, whom he could be seen conferring with throughout the trial.