Photo credit: Jeff Poor
By DANA BEYERLE for Alabama Daily News
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Candidates for the 2020 Republican U.S. Senate primary who addressed members of the Madison County Republican Men’s Club on Saturday made clear they would not vote to convict President Donald Trump based on what they know today if an impeachment effort reached the Senate and they were in position to vote.
State Rep. Arnold Mooney, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, and former U.S. senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the partisan impeachment effort of Trump in the U.S. House is a sham and does not meet the constitutional standard for removal from office.
The three candidates made their comments about the impeachment effort prior to speaking to the GOP club. It’s the largest in Alabama, said Men’s Club President Elbert Peters.
An impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House would not remove the president from office. That would take a two-thirds majority vote – 67 – in the 100-member Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans.
Mooney, a Shelby County commercial real estate businessman in his second term in the Alabama House, said he wouldn’t vote to convict because the evidence isn’t there.
Mooney said a House impeachment hearing witness answered no when asked if she knew of any crime committed by Trump.
“If that’s the evidence, I’m a no vote,” Mooney said. “It’s a sham.”
Moore said he’d vote no because the president hasn’t violated the Constitution.
“They want to impeach our president simply because they don’t like our policies,” Moore told the Men’s Club in his comments.
After taking office in 2017, Trump named Sessions U.S. attorney general but later forced him out of his administration over disagreement about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia election interference investigation. Sessions said Trump’s request for his resignation as attorney general was not personal and he is “on board” with Trump’s policies.
“What they are complaining about is not an impeachable offense,” said Sessions, who was elected to four terms in the Senate and was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump.
Sessions said Democrats leading the impeachment effort, are trying to “conjure up” reasons to impeach Trump. “I don’t think this is justified,” he said.
Republican candidates seeking the March 3, 2020, Republican primary, aim to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who defeated Moore in a special election following Sessions’ appointment as attorney general.
Sessions said as a former senator he would be able to hit the ground running and represent Alabama.
“Doug Jones doesn’t represent our interests,” he said. “The Democratic Party is taking this country down the wrong path.”
Sessions said his focus would be on the nation’s security and fair foreign trade.
Mooney said the 2020 election is about ensuring a future for children and grandchildren.
“It’s time to take on the Washington establishment whether they are Democrat or Republican,” Mooney said.
Mooney criticized what he called the nation’s “out-of-control debt” and “abortion-on-demand,” and said he would vote to preserve military readiness and advocate for personal morality in the U.S. Senate.
Moore, a former Army captain in Vietnam, said the nation needs to strengthen its policies against illegal immigration, including by not allowing immigrants to qualify for taxpayer funded services. He also decried the teaching of public school children in an environment absent of religious values.
In addition to Mooney, Moore, and Sessions, who attended the GOP Men’s Club event, other candidates who have qualified are businessman Stanley Adair, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, Ruth Page Nelson, and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.
— Huntsville resident Dana Beyerle is a retired journalist who covered Alabama politics from 1979 to 2019.