Saturday, February 1, 2020

Senator Lamar Alexander explains his crucial vote in the impeachment trial.

by Rod Williams - Noah Weiland, a reporter with the New York Times has  been sending out daily

Lamar Alexander
email blast summarizing and offering commentary on the day's impeachment developments. In the report yesterday he reported that the Senate voted not to hear from additional witnesses or consider additional evidence saying that vote virtually assured President Trump's acquittal.

As anyone who has been paying attention now knows, that crucial vote to hear additional witnesses failed by a vote of 49 to 51. All Democrats voted in favor and all Republicans were opposed, except for Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney who voted with the Democrats.

Weiland noted that several Republicans issued statements explaining their vote. He found four of them of interest.  The four were Marco Rubio of Florida, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. The thing that made these four explanations interesting is that they each admitted Trump's wrongdoing but argued that it did not rise to the level of removal from office. This is what he said of Alexander.
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said in a statement last night that Mr. Trump did what Democrats accused him of, and that those actions were “inappropriate.” He said that “there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.” (Ben Sasse of Nebraska said that “Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us.”)
He went on to elaborate on Lamar Alexander's vote.
My colleague Carl Hulse interviewed Mr. Alexander in a small private office on the third floor of the Capitol this afternoon. There, the outgoing senator offered more detail on how he thought about his “no” vote on witnesses. Why call them, Mr. Alexander asked, “if you are persuaded that he did it.”
I called Carl to ask about what Mr. Alexander’s decision can tell us about how Republicans came together to effectively end the trial.
Carl, I was struck by the political-cultural argument behind his vote. He said removing Mr. Trump from office would “pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there.” Why did he frame his decision that way? 
He thought it would just be too disruptive, that even if you add up all this conduct, it just isn’t of the level for which you’d remove a president at such a volatile moment.
He thought that this close to the election, doing something so drastic as pushing the president out of office would have sparked what would basically be a rebellion. People wouldn’t have accepted the election, he thought. He talked to me about what would happen to the primary ballots Mr. Trump’s name is on already. 
What does he think the “cultural fires” are? 
He thinks of it as the divide between urban and coastal America and the rest of the country, and that people outside of the coasts would go crazy if Mr. Trump was thrown out. The president is the embodiment of the Republican Party and its position now. Conservatives identify their conservatism with Mr. Trump. Senate Republicans challenge him at their own risk. 
In your interview with Mr. Alexander, he said: 
“Whatever you think of his behavior, with the terrific economy, with conservative judges, with fewer regulations, you add in there an inappropriate call with the president of Ukraine, and you decide if your prefer him or Elizabeth Warren.”
He’s presenting the impeachment case as a kind of one-off incident, the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Ukraine’s president, amid the glory of a conservative political agenda. Ukraine was just one part of Mr. Trump’s record, he’s thinking. They have to weigh it against what Mr. Trump would say are his biggest accomplishments. Mr. Alexander thinks if you do that and you’re a Republican, you’ll still vote for Mr. Trump. To him, Ukraine is part of an overall record that people can consider in ten short months.
I agree with Senator Alexander and am pleased that he explained his vote.  I do not think the president did "nothing wrong."  I do not think the call was "a perfect call." It appears to me he did attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.  I don't reach a conclusion that the president was motivated by a desire to harm the reputation of Joe Biden and influence the next election, but think that may have been at least part of the motivation. In any event, I do not want to impeach the President over this issue. His record of accomplishments out weighs this one inappropriate action. 

Below is Senator Alexanders full statement he released to the media and public explaining his vote.

“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.

“There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.

“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.

“The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.

“The Senate has spent nine long days considering this ‘mountain’ of evidence, the arguments of the House managers and the president’s lawyers, their answers to senators’ questions and the House record. Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.

“The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.

“Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.” ###

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