Sen. Rand Paul on Friday, Jan. 22, called the Democratic-led impeachment against former President Donald Trump an “illegitimate procedure” because even Chief Justice John Roberts will not appear to preside over the Senate trial.

“If the Chief Justice does not appear, the Constitution said he should appear for the impeachment of the President, if the chief justice isn’t coming, I think it’s an illegitimate procedure, and it isn’t a real impeachment, it’s going to be a fake, partisan impeachment,” Paul told Fox News “Hannity.” 

“But the story is that the Chief Justice is not going to be asked, but the reason that he’s not going to be asked is he’s privately said he’s not supposed to come unless it’s an impeachment of the president,” he continued. 

House Democrats voted to impeach the former president on Jan. 13 on a single charge: incitement of insurrection for the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol. 

The Constitution states that “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” The Senate trial will begin even though Donald Trump is now a citizen. 

“So it’s an illegitimate procedure and even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who is not a rabid Trump person, he is if anything, sort of in the middle. He’s now saying this is illegitimate, and I’m not getting in the middle of it and I’m not coming over for this,” Paul said. “So that should tell people a lot of things, the chief justice of the Supreme Court is not coming over because it’s not an impeachment of the president.”

In a separate interview with Fox News earlier this week, Paul warned that if Senate Republicans and leaders go along with the former president’s impeachment and conviction after he’s left office, it will destroy the party.

“I think it’s a huge mistake,” Paul said. “I think it is a hugely partisan exercise on the part of the Democrats. But for Republicans who go along with it, I think they will destroy our party.”

“Trump,” he added, “isn’t everything in the party, but he brought a lot of people to the party. It is a huge mistake for people to say, oh well, we’re just going to impeach him, and then all of the blue-collar workers he brought to our party will stay? No, quite a few of them will be unhappy.”

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Friday that the Senate would begin Trump’s impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8. The House will transmit the article of impeachment late on Monday, Jan. 25.