WASHINGTON, D.C., (WSFA) - Just hours before the U.S. Senate was slated to vote on whether to convict or acquit President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment, one of the last senators still closely holding their decision made his announcement.
Sen. Doug Jones, currently the only statewide elected Democrat in Alabama, confirmed he’ll vote to convict.
“After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the President for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” Jones said in a statement released shortly before taking to the Senate floor to explain himself
Jones said he kept an open mind through the impeachment process and came to his decision after “studying the facts of this case exhaustively.”
Addressing the first article, abuse of power, Jones said he was “deeply troubled by the arguments put forth by the President’s lawyers in favor of virtually unchecked presidential power,” and added that “the evidence clearly proves the President used the weight of his office and that of the United States government to seek to coerce a foreign government to interfere in our election for his personal political benefit.”
Jones said the obstruction of Congress article gave him "even more pause,” but said while he “struggled to understand the House’s strategy in their pursuit of documents and witnesses” and wished House impeachment managers had done more, he was ultimately convinced of the president’s guilt.
“While I am sensitive to protecting the privileges and immunities afforded to the President and his advisors, I believe it is critical to our constitutional structure that we protect Congress’ authorities also," Jones said. "In this matter it was clear from the outset that the President had no intention whatsoever of any accommodation with Congress when he blocked both witnesses and documents from being produced.”
Trump’s acquittal is all but assured in a Wednesday afternoon vote that is expected to fall along party lines. It takes 67 senators to remove a president from office, something that would require a large number of Republican defections.
For Jones, though, the decision could have major implications as he seeks for a full term in November. Already considered the most endangered Democrat this election cycle, Jones’ decision to vote for Trump’s removal won’t sit well with many in a conservative state where the president remains very popular.
Within minutes of his announcement, the Alabama GOP, the Senate Leadership Fund, and even candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Jones were issuing statements against him.
“He continues to take his marching orders from Chuck Schumer and his liberal California campaign donors,” ALGOP Chairman Terry Lathan said. “By voting to convict, Senator Jones once again is demonstrating his contempt for the majority of Alabamians who are opposed to impeachment.”
The SLF added that it “would like to be the first to congratulate Doug Jones on his impending retirement from politics.”