U.S. Sen. Doug Jones spoke to reporters about the Senate impeachment trial and other issues during a brief conference call this morning, saying he remains undecided about how he’ll vote but is still hopeful both sides will be able to call witnesses, even though it looks “less and less likely.”
“As I said throughout this process, I really am waiting until the end of the trial to make up my mind,” he said. “This is what you would expect from any juror in any case, I truly believe I have a responsibility, to the people of Alabama, to the president and to the people of the country to be honest with you to hear all of the evidence before I make a determination either way.”
Responding to news reports suggesting he is on the fence to placate moderate voters as the Democratic incumbent on the November ballot in a heavily Republican state, Jones said his campaign has taken a back seat to the trial.
“I’ve seen all these reports about how I’m agonizing and everything is looked at from a political term. That’s just not what I’m doing, you know this is a weighty issue and I feel the weight of the Constitution in both history and the future on my shoulders but politics and in any upcoming race is just not in my calculation, I want to do what I believe to be the right thing and that’s what I’m agonizing it is a weighty, weighty decision.”
Jones said he has taken about 340 pages of notes in five notebooks throughout the trial, utilizing a practice he employed as an attorney to jot down his own thoughts in the margins and highlight particularly relevant material in red ink. At the end of each day, he recaps the proceedings with both colleagues and staff.
“We’re going to have a vote coming up, probably sooner than I would like to be honest with you but … I want to make sure that I’m going through everything and I’m considering everything on both sides of this issue so that I make an informed decision and I do what I’ve said is impartial justice.”
Jones also said he may take the opportunity to ask a question at the trial this afternoon, then offered his opinion on President Trump’s attorney Alan Dershowitz.
“I have really been disappointed in Professor Dershowitz’s arguments,” he said. “He seemed to be telling everyone that he is right and everybody else is wrong and we should listen to him and no one else … I think that at the end of it he completely lost me yesterday when he essentially said we’re a divisive country, and that this is going to be an acquittal and you should vote to acquit, simply because it might help bring people together. That is somewhat insulting because his client has contributed to that divisiveness, probably more so than anyone. And second of all he’s essentially saying don’t follow up, just do this and let’s get this over with and I don’t think that was appropriate.”
While the trial has proceeded, Jones said he has attended to other business in the Senate, including an initiative to increase workforce development in high-demand industries, a bipartisan bill to secure benefits for veterans affected by exposure to burn pits, writing a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development urging it to address “dangerous” levels of radon in public housing, and attending committee hearings on Social Security scams and national security.
“I want you to know, while this trial is dominating the cable networks we are still working,” he said. “I’m still working on people on behalf of the people of Alabama on issues that I think are important for Alabama on a daily basis.”
Meanwhile, he expects the trial to conclude next week.
“We will be in next week by all accounts and … the odds are we will be through with this trial, but we’ll see. I’m still hoping we get witnesses but I think that’s looking less and less likely.”
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