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The Constitution specifies that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over impeachment trials of the President. SCOTUSblog says that the reason for this exception is

In any impeachment case other than that of the president, the vice president can preside ... However, the Framers recognized that it would be unseemly at best for the person who would assume the presidency in the event of conviction by the Senate to preside over the president’s trial. To prevent that obvious conflict of interest, they specified the chief justice as a stand-in presiding officer in presidential impeachment trials.

The Chief Justice is not presiding over the upcoming trial of Donald Trump, because he's no longer the President, so that clause of the Constitution doesn't apply (another weird result of the unprecedented impeachment of an ex-President). Instead, Patrick Leahy, the President Pro Tempore, will preside.

I read in a news article that this is normal:

“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents,” Leahy said.

So if the VP doesn't normally preside over Senate impeachment trials, and the President Pro Tempore has no such conflict of interest, why was this provision necessary in the Constitution?

SCOTUSblog says the VP can preside, but in fact they don't. In absence of this provision, could the VP demand to preside instead of the President Pro Tempore? Or did the framers simply assume that the VP would normally preside due to their role as the President of the Senate, but tradition has changed this practice?

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SCOTUSblog says the VP can preside, but in fact they don't. In absence of this provision, could the VP demand to preside instead of the President Pro Tempore?

Probably, yes. From Article I, section 3 of the US Constitution:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse [sic] their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of the President of the United States.

This does not appear to give the Senate discretion over who gets to preside. If the VP is present, and not currently Acting President, then the VP "shall" preside.

Or did the framers simply assume that the VP would normally preside due to their role as the President of the Senate, but tradition has changed this practice?

Traditionally, the VP has a menagerie of political responsibilities in the executive branch, many of them significantly more important than a non-voting role in the Senate. On the other hand, the Senate takes its independence from the executive branch seriously, and therefore it deliberately refrains from placing a significant amount of power in the hands of the President or President pro tempore. Instead, most of the power is held by the Majority Leader of the Senate, who among other things gets to decide what regular business makes it to the floor, and at what time. These two effects are mutually reinforcing, and as a result, it is indeed traditional for the VP to ignore their role as President of the Senate for most day-to-day business.

When the Senate is closely divided, however, the tie-breaking power becomes significantly more important. In that case, you will sometimes see the VP show up just for a specific, important vote, and then leave as soon as it has been resolved. Because the final vote on conviction requires a 2/3 supermajority, the VP cannot participate in it anyway, and so her tie-breaking vote would only become relevant for dealing with a question of procedure (for which a simple majority is required).

An impeachment of a non-president is usually an impeachment of a lower-ranking federal official, and so it would still be considered "regular business" (if somewhat unusual) rather than the sort of high-profile "trial of the century" we see with presidential impeachments. The case of impeaching a recent ex-president is unprecedented, so it could go either way. But the Biden administration does not wish to be tied too closely to the impeachment, as it has been characterized (fairly or not) as partisan by some commentators. So in this case, I think letting the President pro tempore deal with it was the path of least resistance.

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