On Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts began presiding over the Donald Trump impeachment trial.
Over at The Washington Post, Michael Rosenwald writes about Salmon P. Chase, the Chief Justice who presided over Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial in 1868. Here is a taste of his piece, “The chief justice who presided over the first presidential impeachment trial thought it was political spectacle“:
Johnson was on trial for, among other things, violating the Tenure of Office Act in 1867, which said the president couldn’t fire important government officials unless he got the go-ahead from the Senate. Johnson had fired the secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, without consulting the Senate. Cue impeachment.
Chase thought the whole thing was much ado about nothing.
“Chase had profound misgivings about the trial,” Niven wrote. “He considered the articles more of partisan rhetoric than substantive evidence for a conviction.”
In a letter to Gerrit Smith, a fellow abolitionist and former congressman, Chase wrote that “the whole business seems wrong, and if I had any opinion, under the Constitution, I would not take part in it.”
Chase suspected the whole business would become a public spectacle.
Read the entire piece here.