Assuming that there are three Republican senators who care enough about their country and the rule of law to want witnesses and documents in Donald Trump's impeachment trial (not a given by any means) Chief Justice John Roberts could be put in a difficult position. He would have to break the a 50-50 tie either voting for a sham trial or a real one. Or, do what the conventional wisdom expects and choose not to decide and let entropy win. At a stalemate, the side asking for witnesses would lose.
Thus far, Roberts has been more of a spectator than an umpire, to use his infamous analogy during his confirmation hearing of what his role on the Supreme Court would be—"calling balls and strikes." He's watched while Republican senators made the presentation by House managers a farce, napping through the discussion, playing with toys, standing in the back of the room chatting, reading unrelated books, or just flat out leaving the room for long stretches. That is against the rules of impeachment trials, rules he's there to enforce. That has not impressed the experts. So far, Roberts has been "less of a force than some people expected or hoped for," Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor and impeachment expert told the Washington Post. Few watching this have high hopes that he'll rise to the challenge.
No matter how we get there, the end goal is the same: John Bolton must testify.
The only peep out of him on the proceedings was a "both sides" scolding of Rep. Jerry Nadler spurred on, of course, by Sen. Susan Collins' note tattling on him. He's done something helpful in rebuffing Sen. Rand Paul's efforts to out the person who blew the whistle on Trump's Ukraine extortion. That was done behind the scenes, even before the question and answer period began Wednesday.
So, with his chance to actually do the job, call the balls and strikes, the big question is whether he'll step up to save the institution of the Senate from itself, try to save the republic from Trump, or even try to save his own legacy. One Democrat, Sen. Chris Van Hollen from Maryland, is going to attempt to force the issue by offering a motion putting pressure on Roberts to decide. Republicans will almost certainly defeat it, but that doesn't mean Roberts couldn't be the hero all of his own accord.