WASHINGTON – Sen. Doug Jones, a key Senate Democrat considered one of the chamber’s most endangered senators going into the 2020 race, found some of the arguments made by President Donald Trump’s counsel “persuasive” and highlighted concerns he has over the second article of impeachment.
Jones, D-Ala., in a brief interview with USA TODAY Monday evening, said he’s taken about 240 pages worth of notes so far throughout the trial. He says he’s made stars next to key arguments and acknowledged he’s wrestling over whether he will find the president guilty or vote to acquit him — a decision that would almost certainly hang over his future in the Senate.
“He did make some good points on a couple of things on factual issues that I’ve got concerns about with, especially with regard to Article II,” Jones said of the arguments made by Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s counsel defending him during the trial.
Jones’ vote on impeachment likely won’t determine Trump’s fate. To remove the president from office, a supermajority of 67 senators would have to vote to convict the president.
Currently, Republicans hold the majority in the chamber with 53 seats. To oust the president, Democrats would need the full support of their caucus along with 20 Republicans. Without Jones, that number would increase to 21.
But, his vote will likely carry over to the campaign trail. Jones narrowly won his seat in 2017 after defeating Roy Moore, who faced a series of sexual assault allegations. Jones’ win made him the first Democratic senator to represent deep-red Alabama in 25 years.
But in 2020, Jones faces an uphill battle as he fends off Republicans, including Jeff Sessions, who held the seat before serving as Trump’s attorney general.
Jones said that Dershowitz’s arguments Monday that the founding fathers would have found both articles of impeachment in violation of the Constitution because they are not specifically mentioned did not carry water with him. “I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that,” he said.
As a whole, Jones said he found the president’s counsel did a good job with the case against convicting the president of obstruction of justice, the second article of impeachment House Democrats charged Trump with. He found the argument on Article I, abuse of power, less persuasive.
“I think the arguments they’re making on Article II are much more persuasive than Article I,” he said. “And Article I, they’re focusing solely on the [July 25th call] transcript and there’s so much more to the story than the transcript, and they continue to talk about cross-examination of witnesses but yet they continue to block witnesses that have first-hand knowledge. That’s disingenuous.”
The remarks indicate that Jones has left the door open to splitting his vote on the pair of impeachment articles. When asked about the possibility, Jones did not deny it but said he was viewing each article separately.
“I try to keep these separate,” he explained. “My training as a judge is saying, each count stands on its own. And that’s how I’m trying to continue to look at this.”
But, Jones said, he has yet to make up his mind on how he will vote.
“I ask myself a lot of questions and I’ll go back, I’ll argue with myself a lot tonight,” he said with a smile. “It’s the way I do things.”
While Jones continues to wrestle over his vote, which could happen as early as late this week or early next week, he has joined the rest of his Senate Democratic colleagues in supporting additional witnesses testifying as part of the trial. At the top of his list? John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, and Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff.
A total of 51 senators would need to support calling any additional witnesses or requesting any new documents, a possibility that has gained new traction thanks to a leaked manuscript of a book set to be released in March by Bolton.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump impeachment: Doug Jones says president’s team made good argument