A red-state Democrat senator has gone on the record calling for a “fair” Senate impeachment trial, which some have interpreted as an implicit acknowledgment that the process that has taken place so far has been anything but.
Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) recently gave an interview on The Jeff Poor Show on Huntsville, Alabama radio station WVNN in which he suggested that he and his colleagues in the upper chamber will be looking to clean up the partisan nature of the impeachment inquiry led by House leaders like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Breitbart reported.
“But the trial has also got to be fair to the American people because so many people have made up their minds right now,” Jones said. “You know what I’m talking about. It has become a really partisan talking point where people have gone to their corners.”
Besides pointing to the partisan nature of the impeachment inquiry thus far, Jones also seemed to suggest that Schiff and the House Democrats may not have gotten the job done on the evidence front.
“I’ve said this, and I know there are people that think this is a partisan witch hunt — I’ve never believed that,” Jones said. “This is really serious allegations where the allegations and the evidence would suggest the president of the United States used the power of his office and the authority of his office to withhold military aid, to withhold a state meeting with the head of the state of a country that is so dependent on the United States in order to help his campaign. People can agree or disagree at this point.”
Most Democrats probably would not take issue with what Jones has said thus far, although the more extreme members of the party’s base would likely change “the evidence would suggest” to “the evidence shows.” But what Jones said next is telling, indeed.
“The fact of the matter is in the Clinton impeachment, in the Nixon impeachment, everyone heard from every witness. Everybody at least had a complete set of facts,” he said. He went on:
We don’t have that here. We don’t have the people that have the direct knowledge. And I just think it’s important. I just think the American people are owed that now and not later because that will come out. Sooner or later, the evidence will come out, and I just don’t want people to say, ‘Well see, I told you so,’ or either, ‘Oh my God, I voted this way and look what we see now.’ That’s just not fair to the Senate. That’s just not fair to the American people.
The phrase of the week for the Democrats has been “fair trial.” During the interview, Jones gave an indication of what that would look like to him.
“[I]’m expecting at a very minimum that the entire record from the House of Representatives will be a part of the record here in the Senate,” he said. “We’ve been compiling that for six weeks or more, and I’ve been trying to keep up with it, and reading and doing all that I can. Most of the talk in the Senate right now is just about process and what is the trial going to look like.”
For Jones, a fair trial would also include the testimony of current and former Trump administration officials including White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, and others.
“I don’t know what people like Mick Mulvaney may say, or Mike Pompeo,” Jones said. “I just know they need to testify because they were in the room. They have direct knowledge.”
Throughout the conversation, Jones walked a fine line in attempting to give a little ground to Democrats and some to Republicans as well. It remains to be seen whether such an approach will help him hold on to his Senate seat come Election Day 2020.