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Politics Pettifogging: here's what Chief Justice Roberts was talking about in the impeachment trial

16:45  22 january  2020
16:45  22 january  2020 Source:   cnn.com

How Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the politically charged Trump impeachment trial

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Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. arrives for the Senate impeachment trial at the Capitol. Americans are probably familiar with the mechanics here . The president can be impeached ; if he He noted that in the two prior examples of presidential impeachment trials (those of Andrew Johnson in

Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, for whom Roberts once clerked, oversaw the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. That contrast may be particularly pronounced in the case of Roberts , who has been outspoken about his belief that the judiciary should not wade into political

John Roberts sitting on a table: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts admonished the House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team after a feisty exchange in the early morning hours.© Senate TV Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts admonished the House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team after a feisty exchange in the early morning hours.

When Chief Justice John Roberts issued an extraordinary admonishment of Democrats and Republicans on the first day of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, he not only reminded speakers to maintain decorum but used a seldom-uttered word — pettifogging — to make his point.

Roberts had just listened to the impeachment managers and Trump's legal team sharply criticize each other early Wednesday morning after House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, made the case for issuing a subpoena for former national security adviser John Bolton's testimony.

Senate trial expected to start January 21

  Senate trial expected to start January 21 The trial is expected to last three to five weeks.The House is expected to send over the articles on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed the transmission. There aren't enough votes for an outright dismissal of the articles of impeachment, as Mr. Trump had hoped.

Because Chief Justice John Roberts has Supreme Court responsibilities in the morning and cannot begin his impeachment duties until 1 p.m., Mitch Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators argue that the Senate should not allow new witnesses or documents in the impeachment trial of

Follow us here for all of the latest breaking news and analysis on impeachment from NBC News' political reporters Chief Justice John Roberts , who has presided over hours of proceedings, took " In the 1905 Swayne trial , a senator objected when one of the managers used the word ' pettifogging

Roberts said that kind of exchange was not appropriate and, providing a historical example, reminded the legal teams that they need to be on their best behavior.

LIVE UPDATES: Impeachment trial of President Trump

"In the 1905 Swayne trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word 'pettifogging' and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used," Roberts said. "I don't think we need to aspire to that high of a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are."

Merriam-Webster defines pettifogging as "worrying too much about details that are minor or not important."

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In other words, Roberts said that if the senator in 1905 who accused his opponent of focusing too much on the petty details was behaving objectionably, today's impeachment teams that are throwing accusations of cover-ups and dishonesty against one another are also outside the bounds of proper behavior.

"I think it is appropriate for me to admonish both the House managers and the President's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body," Roberts said. "One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse."

Roberts is presiding over the trial — his constitutional duty — in a role that is highly public but unlikely to see him cast any votes, because Republicans, who hold a majority of seats in the chamber, can overrule the chief justice's decisions.

The chief justice has long been known for his extensive preparation and an ability to foresee what's ahead that some colleagues have likened to three-dimensional chess.

Schiff lobbies Chief Justice Roberts to rule on questions of executive privilege .
Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead House prosecutor, called on Chief Justice John Roberts to expedite rulings on any disputes between Congress and President Trump over witness testimony and documents, if the Senate votes to allow them. © Provided by Yahoo! News Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff addresses the media Friday.

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