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Sen. Alexander: Why I Cast My Deciding Vote

The Tennessee Republican voted against allowing witnesses in the Trump impeachment trial
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2020 12:30 PM CST
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Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, talks to reporters as he arrives at the Capitol for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Can you put out a fire with gasoline? Sen. Lamar Alexander says you really can't. The Tennessee Republican is getting a lot of attention for his key vote to block witnesses from the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, and now the press is quoting him on it. "For the Senate to tear up the ballots in this election and say President Trump couldn't be on it, the country probably wouldn’t accept that," Alexander told the New York Times. "It would just pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there." Like Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alexander was considered a possible GOP swing vote, but Politico notes that both stayed with their party in a tight 51-49 vote against allowing witnesses. More from Alexander:

  • "I think it is inappropriate for the president to ask the leader of a foreign nation to investigate a leading political rival, which the president says he did. ... But that is not treason, that is not bribery, that is not a high crime and misdemeanor."
  • "We're pretty accustomed in our everyday life to being able to distinguish between things that are inappropriate and things that deserve capital punishment. When you don't give capital punishment to somebody who left the scene of an accident, you disapprove of what they did. You may penalize them in the next election, but you don't throw them out of office, and tell the American people they can't vote for him in the election that's already underway."
  • Alexander said three things bothered him: the impeachment being totally partisan; possibly lowering the bar for cause of impeachment; and the closeness of the 2020 election. "I made the decision gradually during the week," the 79-year-old retiring senator told USA Today. "I did it the way I think a juror or a judge is supposed to make it."
(Read more about the vote on witnesses.)

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