By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
While Republican and Democratic leaders have not yet come to an agreement on the process, the impeachment of President Donald Trump will eventually move to the U.S. Senate for a trial.
One of the most-watched votes will be that of Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. Already, a handful of stories have appeared from state and national news outlets speculating on Jones’ decision.
Republicans’ control of the U.S. Senate makes the ultimate outcome all but predetermined. It would take a two-thirds majority to convict Trump on impeachment charges, meaning all 47 Democrats and at least 20 Republicans would need to vote yes.
That makes Jones’ vote of little consequence to the actual outcome. However, vote will have significant political impact, both for Jones and his party.
On one hand, a vote to convict the president would surely anger Trump supporters in a state where the president enjoys overwhelming voter support, impacting Jones’ re-election prospects later this year. On the other hand, a vote to acquit could damage national Democrats’ message by showing disunity and anger his base of supporters back home.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently told Fox News that “one or two Democrats” might vote with Republicans against the impeachment charges.
For Jones, what matters for now isn’t the politics, but the still nebulous process and procedure.
“This is not about parties,” Jones said in an interview with WTVM-Birmingham. “It’s about the future of the presidency, it’s about the future of Congress, and it’s about national security.”
In an op-ed contributed to the Washington Post this week, Jones laid out a more detailed explanation of how he is approaching the impeachment question.
He says he wants to see a “full, fair and complete trial with all relevant evidence regarding the president’s conduct.” That would include key witnesses – at least four of them – from the Trump administration as well as documents relating to the impeachment charges.
Jones, who previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, made the case that the Senate should approach impeachment much like a criminal court proceeding.
“Every trial is a pursuit of the truth,” Jones wrote. “That’s all I want. It’s all each of us should want. Now that it’s the Senate’s time to fulfill its duty, my final question is: Will a majority of senators pursue the truth over all else?”
Jones took aim at the White House for stonewalling the investigation process in the House of Representatives by refusing to allow relevant witnesses to testify.
“Unlike what happened during the investigation of President Bill Clinton, Trump has blocked both the production of virtually all relevant documents and the testimony of witnesses who have firsthand knowledge of the facts.”
Jones said the witnesses should be former National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and his senior adviser, and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffy.
“Each has direct knowledge regarding the charges against the president and should testify under oath at a Senate trial,” Jones said.
McConnell has not publicly committed to any details of an impeachment trial process, but has not ruled out calling witnesses. The Senate’s top Republican did say he would coordinate with the White House on the proceedings, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.
That makes it unlikely that the trial will involve the witnesses Jones said are necessary for a fair and thorough trial. Should that be the case, the question for Jones will become whether an unsatisfactory process justifies a vote to convict the president on two counts of impeachment.
In one of his most consequential votes to date – the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh – Jones also pointed to a flawed process in explaining his position.
“The Kavanaugh nomination process has been flawed from the beginning and incomplete at the end,” Jones said in a statement announcing that he would vote against confirming Kavanaugh.
However, Jones writes that even though he would like to see more information produced in a Senate trial, there could already be enough evidence to render a decision.
“The evidence we do have may be sufficient to make a judgment, but it is clearly incomplete,” he said.
Read Jones’ full op-ed in The Washington Post.