Last week, President Donald J. Trump (R) was polling better than Barack Obama at this point in his presidency and appeared likely to win re-election. Today, whether or not he will finish the third year of his presidency is in serious question. If the Democratic controlled U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach the President, the focus will switch to the U.S. Senate and more specifically on Democratic and Republican moderates, who would likely be the ones that decide the President’s fate. At the center of that storm would be U.S. Senate Doug Jones (D-Alabama) who along with Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Maine) is one of the most moderate and bipartisan members of the Senate today. On Thursday, Senator Jones made an impassioned speech on the Senate floor to his colleagues in Congress urging them, “To do the very best that we can in making sure that we analyze whatever is in front of us because history will judge us.”
“I hope that my colleagues, as we go forward… will remember their oath,” Senator Jones said. “We didn’t take oaths to support the President of the United States. We didn’t take an oath to support the Republican Party. We didn’t take an oath to support the Democratic Party. We took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“Our duties to this office are to our constituents, to do the very best that we can in making sure that we analyze whatever is in front of us, because history will judge us,” Jones said. “They will determine whether or not we acted with courage and conviction or whether we just simply tested the political winds, as some people are already doing. Ladies and gentlemen and colleagues, in the name of God, we have got to do our duty. We have to do our duty. We have to make sure that we fulfill our oaths, that we are not concerned about how many votes it might get us or how many votes it might lose. We have to fulfill that solemn obligation whether we know the outcome or not, whether we get pressure from a side or not, whether or not there are millions of dollars spent in TV and radio telling us to vote a certain way, in the name of God, we should do our duty and nothing less.”
“I have to admit I haven’t had a heck of a lot of sleep the last few nights and I don’t think anyone has,” Sen. Jones said. “If anyone has rested well the last few nights, it’s because they’re either not paying attention or they’re here for the wrong reason. We’re in some troubled times. The events of the past two weeks have been nothing short of stunning. They have been stunning in the speed in which they have unfolded. They have been stunning and disturbing and the allegations that have been made regarding the conduct of the President of the United States – allegations that go to the heart of national security. Allegations that go to the heart of whether or not the President is upholding his oath to the Constitution of the United States or abusing the power of the presidency.”
“My colleague and friend Senator Sasse from Nebraska used the term partisan tribalism in today’s world that is ‘insta-certain,’” Jones continued. “No matter you see, no matter what you read, it doesn’t matter because you are going to take a side. When we take sides, the American public immediately takes side and no one listens to the facts. We are called as senators, we are called as members of the House, we are called as members of this body to a much higher duty than that, a much higher duty. Our duty is to carefully analyze and review the facts. Facts – not mere allegation. Facts – not reports or leaks. Facts – not what some political talking head on the television says their opinion might be. Our duty is so much higher than that.”
President Trump has been accused with threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine, who is in an entrenched five year long war with Russian backed separatist militias, if President Volodymyr Zerensky did not reopen an investigation into how Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, acquired a substantial interest and a seat on the Board of Directors of a Ukrainian natural gas company.
“We have seen already what appears to be very disturbing facts,” Jones said. “We have seen a summary of a telephone call between the President of the United States and the President of Ukraine. Ukraine is a country dependent on countries like the United States. The balance of power between the United States and Ukraine is not balanced at all. We have so much more power and in that call, that summary of that call, the President of the United States noted that to the President of Ukraine. He said essentially, ‘You are dependent on us. No one else helps you. You can count on the United States of America and by the way, I need a favor. I need a favor. I need you to do me a personal political favor.’”
This is a very tricky situation politically for Senator Jones. Like Trump, he is on the 2020 election ballot so voters will get to judge both men. Jones is the only Democratic statewide officeholder in a very red state, where Donald Trump remains wildly popular with the voters. Jones has already endorsed Joe Biden for President and has vowed to support the Democratic nominee. If he votes that the President is “not guilty” would that be seen as politically pandering to pro-Trump voters, whom Jones needs to split their ticket? Would doing that alienate the out of state Democratic donors who overwhelmingly fund Jones’ re-election?
Jones would likely face a great deal of criticism however he votes, and it is possible that the fate of the Trump presidency could hang on his vote.
Now the House may not impeach the President, in which case it would never get to Doug Jones and the Senate. It is also possible that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) will simply never schedule an impeachment trial so Jones and the rest of the Senate never vote. It is also possible that Pres. Trump will resign rather than let this play out. If the President is impeached and then found guilty and removed by the Senate or Trump resigns; Vice President Mike Pence (R) would take over as President and a new vice president would be appointed.
At this point everything is a possibility.
Jones already has six Republican opponents battling to be the GOP Senate nominee in 2020.