U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, spoke in a largely empty Senate chamber Thursday in Washington D.C. and implored his colleagues to do the jobs they took an oath to do and to defend the Constitution by investigating allegations of wrongdoing by the President.
Jones’s speech came after the acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testified before the House Intelligence Committee earlier on Thursday about a whistleblower complaint regarding Trump’s call with the Ukrianian president and allegations that he abused his office for personal gain at the risk of national security.
Jones said Thursday that the events that have unfolded over the past two weeks “have been nothing short of stunning,” and while the allegations about Trump’s conduct go to the heart of national security and to whether he’s upholding his oath to the Constitution, “we are just now beginning this process. The facts have not come out.”
Jones cautioned lawmakers to not rush to make a decision before those facts come out, and that the allegations in the whistleblower complaint need to be investigated, but the facts that have already surfaced trouble him.
“We have seen already some, what appears to be very disturbing facts. We have seen a summary of a telephone call between the United States and the President of Ukraine,” Jones said. “Ukraine is a country dependent on countries like the United States. The balance of power between the United States in 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. But 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.”
“And in that conversation he talked about not only having his personal lawyer, but also utilizing the Attorney General of the United States to help benefit that politically. Those are initially the facts, and they are very disturbing, and for anyone to say that they are not is shirking their responsibility to their constituents, to the public, to the Constitution, to the very oath that we took when we came into this body.”
On the whistleblower complaint:
“We’ve now also seen the contents of the so-called whistleblower complaint. Whistleblower is a term of art. Whistleblowers are just simply somebody that’s come forward, but they’re given the name whistleblower because they’re given legal protections.”
“What these people are that come forward with this are concerned citizens of the United States, and a concerned citizen and United States saw something happening that disturbed him so much that he felt compelled to bring it to someone’s attention. Documented fairly well but again, these facts have not come out. They’re just statements and an allegation in a complaint. That has to be determined.”
“We deserve to know whether or not the President is abusing his office, we deserve to know whether or not he is placing our national security at risk. Because remember, Ukraine is under threat from Russia every day. Every day, they are looking over their shoulder. And that puts us at risk as well.”
On the media, questions about his views on impeachment:
“I have been asked over and over by the media in the last few days, do you support the House doing this? And do you just for impeachment? Do you support this or that my comment is always the same. I want to know the facts. It doesn’t matter to me what the House of Representatives in their prerogative, call their processes. I want to know the facts. The American people deserve to know the facts. This body deserves to know the facts, whether or not anything comes over from the House of Representatives.”
“I guarantee you, when I go back to Alabama, people, a lot of people will have already made up their mind when I go to a town hall or whatever they’re going to have made up their mind. Without any facts, they’re going to be making up their mind based on the media, because you know what, my friends in the media? You need to pay attention too. Don’t ask me whether or not this is going to affect my election in 2020. Don’t ask me if it’s going to affect Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Don’t ask me it’s going to affect the presidential race. Ask me what’s going to happen to the Constitution. What is going to happen to the rule of law. Let’s talk about the seriousness of what we’ve got, and not the politics of it for goodness sake.”
On attacks against the impeachment proceedings:
“This is not a Republican process. This is not a Democratic process. And for God sakes is not a socialist agenda. That’s about the dumbest thing that I’ve heard people say over the last two days. Good Lord. We’re talking about a process that’s rooted in the Constitution of the United States. Rooted in the Constitution of the United States for a purpose. Part of that checks and balances that seem to be going out the window these days, in our society and in our government, and here in Washington, DC.”
“This is not the time to circle the wagons around the President. But likewise, it is not the time to make a judgment already, that this President should be removed from office or even articles of impeachment voted on by the House. That is not the time to do that. We’re beginning a process that we have to take our time on. I say that knowing that when we say take our time, we just need to be deliberate, but we need to move.”
“If everything we do in this body, we put our fingers to the political winds then we may as well not be here…We should not be able to live with ourselves.”
“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 against all enemies, foreign and domestic. An important part that our framers put in those oaths. Foreign and domestic.”