As Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) keeps the process of impeaching and trying President Donald Trump in limbo, it increasingly appears that House Democrats aren’t the only ones with cold feet.
Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said that he may vote to acquit Trump if the “dots aren’t connected,” the Washington Examiner reported Sunday. Jones, who won his seat in a 2017 special election against Republican Roy Moore, is expected to face a tough re-election battle in the ruby red state of Alabama.
“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. 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,” he said.
Jones may vote for Trump acquittal
Impeachment has been stuck in neutral after Pelosi decided to withhold articles from the Senate, apparently in a last-ditch bid to gain some leverage in the upper chamber, where Trump’s acquittal is the expected outcome. But Republicans are confident that Pelosi’s gambit will fail and Trump will indee be acquitted — possibly with the help of one or two Democratic senators, according to Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Jones, who won his election largely because sexual misconduct allegations against Moore sank the Republican’s candidacy, did not directly respond when asked on ABC’s This Week if he was one of those senators. But he suggested that was the case, saying “there are gaps” that need to be filled in even as he acknowledged that “these are really serious allegations.”
“Now, people can make up their mind with gaps in testimony, but I would like to see a full and complete picture. And we don’t have that because the president has refused to have his people come and testify and deliver documents,” he said, turning the blame back around on Trump for ‘obstructing’ the Democrats.
“He says the Senate’s going to give him a fair trial and he wants these folks the testify. Well, let him tell Senator McConnell to let him come testify and get this — let’s get this going as soon as we get back,” Jones added, according to RealClearPolitics.
Democrats have tried to argue in recent days that McConnell is rigging the Senate trial, giving Democrats cause to put a hold on impeachment until Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) can strike a fair agreement with McConnell to let additional witnesses testify. But McConnell has shown little interest in dragging out the process, and he has been clear that Pelosi’s hold won’t win her party any leverage.
Tough political calculus
Some 31 House Democrats in districts that Trump carried in 2016 were closely watched before the impeachment vote, even though all but two voted to impeach in the end. Jones, who is widely considered the most vulnerable Democratic senator, is in a similar position, and his answer suggests he is struggling to thread the needle between his party’s impeachment party line and his own political concerns.
Jones will be campaigning against former Republican senator Jeff Sessions, whose vacancy Jones filled and who is still very popular in the state, which Trump carried by 30 points in 2016. However, Jones downplayed the importance of political calculation in his vote and the impeachment process overall.
“Everyone wants to talk about this in the political terms and the political consequences term,” Jones said. “This is a much more serious matter than that.”
Some other senators McConnell may be eyeing for possible defections include Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Gary Peters, (D-MI), and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, (D-AZ), Fox reported.