Senator Doug Jones was interviewed Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” by Martha Raddatz. Their conversation revolved around the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and Senator Jones had a lot to say. In the same way that he promised to be an independent voice for Alabama during his 2017 campaign, Jones promised to be an independent juror during the impeachment trial. He carefully distanced himself away from extremes on both sides of the aisle and sought to fashion himself as an objective interpreter of the law and the facts who is bound by his Constitutional oath rather than loyalty to his political party or his conservative constituency.
“I think that what the American people deserve, regardless of what they believe about how the House proceedings went forward, the American people and the United States Senate deserve to have a full, fair, and complete trial. And that means witnesses, it means documents, it means getting the information out now in this very, very serious matter and not over the course of the next few months in Senator [Ron] Johnson’s committee or Senator [Lindsey] Graham’s committee or next year in John Bolton’s book. We need to have the information now, full fair and complete…”
When asked if he supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tactic to withhold the articles of impeachment to give leverage to Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-New York) in negotiations with Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) over the impeachment trial rules and possible subpoena of additional witnesses, Jones said,
“Well, I certainly don’t think it’s unfair for her to do that. Let’s put it in a proper context of history. The Clinton articles of impeachment were voted on around December 17th. They didn’t come over to the United States Senate until around January the 6th or 7th, some three weeks later. There was a change in Congress. So, there’s nothing magic about moving these articles immediately.”
“I think what the Speaker is doing is to say, “What are the rules gonna be when I send House managers over there? What kind of playing field are we gonna have? What is the timing of this?”
“I don’t think that’s unreasonable to try to just simply ask that the Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader sit down, establish those rules going forward before she sends the articles over. She’s not gonna hold these forever, Martha. We’re gonna see these relatively soon. But I don’t think it’s unfair to ask, ‘What are the rules that we’re playing by when we go and get these over here?’”
Raddatz pressed him further, saying, “House Democrats have called the President a clear and present danger to this country and our upcoming elections. If he’s so dangerous, why are House Democrats suddenly slowing down, aside from your reasons, they are holding up these articles?”
Jones responded, “I don’t think they’re slowing anything down. We’re not gonna be back for a while. I don’t think they’re slowing anything down. Senator [Lindsey] Graham, when he was a member of the House and one of the House managers, he all but said that President Clinton was a clear and present danger. Anytime we’ve got an impeachment article, it’s very, very significant.”
“I think it’s a full, fair, complete trial that Democrats are looking for. I think the American people are looking for that. I think that members of the Republican caucus are looking for that as well. The last thing that they want is to be able to have to vote on this sometime in January and have new and different facts come out that may have changed their vote down the line. I don’t think we’re in a rush, but everyone wants to get this thing moving, get it over with, but do it in a fair, full, and complete way.”
When Raddatz asked Jones what additional information he needed to decide how we will vote, he said, “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 says the Senate’s gonna give him a fair trial and he wants these folks to testify. Well, let him tell Senator McConnell to let them come testify…”
Lastly, Raddatz asked him, “There are Republican strategists who say if you vote to impeach President Trump in your deeply red state, ‘He basically signs his death warrant’. Is that what you’re doing there? Are you worried about that?”
Jones confidently responded, “I took an oath as a U.S. Senator and I’m gonna take another oath and that’s where my duty is. I think the problem that we’ve got in America today and the problem we have sometimes, with all due respect in the media, everyone wants to talk about this in the political terms and the political consequences terms.”
“This is a much more serious matter than that. This has to do with the future of the Presidency and how we want Presidents to conduct themselves. It has all to do with the future of the Senate and how a Senate should handle impeachment…articles of impeachment that come over. That’s how I’m looking at this. If I did everything based on a pure political argument, all you’d need is a computer to mash a button.”
“That’s just not what this country’s about. That’s not what the Founders intended. It’s not what I intend to do.”
Dakota Layton graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He is currently enrolled at the University of Mississippi where he is working to earn his Master of Arts in Philosophy.