Democratic Sen. Doug Jones dismissed concerns that he will lose his seat if he votes to remove President Trump in a Senate trial, but said he would acquit Trump if “dots aren't connected” over “gaps” in the impeachment case.
Jones, D-Ala., during an appearance on ABC's “This Week,” called the impeachment charges against Trump “really serious allegations.” The House last week voted to approve two articles of impeachment that accuse the president of abusing the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf and obstructing Congress in its inquiry.
“What I'm trying to do because, quite frankly, I didn't sit in front of the TV set the entire time the last two or three months, I've been trying to read this. I'm trying to see if the dots get connected. If that is the case, then I think it's a serious matter. I think it's an impeachable matter,” Jones said. “But if those dots aren't connected and there are other explanations that I think are consistent with innocence, I will go that way too.”
Jones said “there are gaps” that witnesses who appear at the Senate trial would help fill in. But Democrats’ requests for witnesses and relevant documents have been roundly resisted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Now, people can make up their mind with gaps in testimony, but I would like to see a full and complete picture,” Jones said. “And we don't have that because the president has refused to have his people come and testify and deliver documents. He says the Senate's going to give him a fair trial and he wants these folks to testify. Well, let him tell Sen. McConnell to let him come testify and get this — let's get this going as soon as we get back.”
Last week, McConnell admitted he had no intention of being “impartial” in the Senate impeachment trial. Some House Democrats then floated the idea of holding back the articles until a fair trial was guaranteed. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants testimony from current and former administration officials, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which the White House opposes. Schumer said Tuesday he would force a vote on the Senate floor on calling these witnesses, which could put some of McConnell’s Republican allies in a difficult position.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell said about the Senate trial.
“Is he talking about you?” asked “This Week” anchor Martha Raddatz.
“I have no idea what Mitch McConnell's talking about these days,” responded Jones, a vulnerable moderate whose state had not voted for a Democrat in a Senate race in 25 years before his upset victory in December 2017. He is considered to be one of the potential Democratic defectors in Trump’s impeachment trial.
Last year, in another consequential vote, Jones came out against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who had been accused of sexual assault, despite increased pressure from conservatives in his deep-red state to confirm Trump’s pick.
When asked if he was worried about his seat in 2020, Jones said, “No,” adding, “I took an oath as a U.S. senator. I'm going to take another oath.”
He said the “problem that we've got in America today [is] everyone wants to talk about this in the political terms, in the political consequences term.”
“This is a much more serious matter than that,” the senator continued. “This has to do with the future of the presidency, and how we want our presidents to conduct themselves. It has all to do with the future of this Senate and how a Senate should handle impeachment, articles of impeachment that come over. That's how I'm looking at this.”
Jones, defending his position, added, “If I did everything based on a pure and political argument, all I'd — you'd need is a computer to mash a button. It's just not what this country's about, it's not what the Founders intended, it's not what I intend to do.
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