KEY POINTS

  • President Donald Trump confirms he wants a Senate impeachment trial
  • Chief Justice John Roberts will have the unenviable task of "refereeing" the Senate impeachment trial
  • Roberts is "conservative in most cases, liberal in some"
  • He recently warned against disinformation on the internet and social media, an indirect dig at Trump and his penchant for using Twitter

President Donald Trump might eventually be granted the Senate trial he craves since being impeached by the House of Representatives on December 18 despite its potentially catastrophic pitfalls and against the advice of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

McConnell has gone on record as saying he wants nothing to do with a Senate trial that might turn disastrous for Trump if witnesses are called to testify under oath before the chamber and Chief Justice John Roberts. During the impeachment inquiry in the Democrat-controlled House from October to December, the GOP refused to argue on the merits and facts of the case against Trump and instead focused on belittling witnesses. They're expected to follow the same tactic in the Senate trial -- but only if no witnesses are called by both sides.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to turn the articles of impeachment over to the Senate unless Republicans agree to put in place rules that will guarantee a fair trial. McConnell has declared an impasse between the House and Senate because of Pelosis's gamble. Trump has blasted Pelosi for withholding the articles, and has called her "crazy" for doing so.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said he'd be happy to have a trial in the Senate and again said the impeachment is a hoax. He also said he didn't "really care" about this trial.

"I don't really care," declared Trump. "It doesn't matter. As far as I'm concerned I'd be very happy with a trial because we did nothing wrong."

He again alleges his dealings with Ukraine are part of a fight against corruption.

"I look forward to it," the president added after noting that the House vote to impeach him was almost entirely along party lines.

"I mean, we’ll see. We have absolutely -- we did nothing wrong. All you have to do is read the transcripts. If you read the transcripts -- or you could also do something else. You could go see or speak to the president of Ukraine, and the president of Ukraine said, loudly and boldly -- and I appreciate his statement -- he said it many times: There was no pressure."

At a rally in the swing state of Michigan Trump said the economy would be his shield against any assault from the eventual Democratic challenger in 2020 At a rally in the swing state of Michigan Trump said the economy would be his shield against any assault from the eventual Democratic challenger in 2020 Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski

The upcoming impeachment trial will also shine a bright light on Roberts, 64, a Republican appointed Chief Justice in September 2005 by former president George W. Bush. Roberts has been described as "conservative in most cases, liberal in some."

The Senate impeachment trial will focus on accusations Trump abused his power by asking Ukraine to investigate former Democratic vice president Joe Biden in a quid pro quo for Congressionally-mandate military aid illegally withheld by Trump.

Roberts is not a Trump supporter and has clashed with the president in the past. Trump has kept criticizing federal courts and judges that have blocked his policies, or rendered rulings not in his favor.

During his end-of-year message on Tuesday, Roberts spoke about a past disagreement with Trump, saying an independent judiciary was a “key source of national unity and stability." He called on his judicial colleagues to promote public confidence and trust by reflecting on their duty to judge without fear or favor.

Roberts has also warned against disinformation, which is being magnified by the internet and social media. Analysts said this might be a reference to Trump using his Twitter account to retweet unfounded rumors.

Elena Kagan John Roberts U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan pictured with Chief Justice John Roberts. Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing