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GOP senator: 'Inappropriate' to discuss opponents, but impeachment a 'mistake'

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt's retirement deals blow to McConnell inner circle MORE (R-Tenn.) said President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE's discussions with foreign governments about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Biden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan The business case for child care reform MORE were "inappropriate," but impeaching the president would be a "mistake." 

“It’s inappropriate for the president to be talking with foreign governments about investigating his political opponents, but impeachment would be a mistake. An election, which is just around the corner, is the right way to decide who should be president," Alexander said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Impeachment has never removed a president. It will only divide the country further," he added. 

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Alexander, a close ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Senate GOP opens door to earmarks McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE (R-Ky.), has been careful about weighing in on the impeachment battle or Trump's calls for Ukraine and China to investigate Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic White House hopeful, or his son, Hunter Biden. 

"The Senate Intelligence Committee is determining the facts in the Ukraine whistleblower matter, and I want to know the facts before I comment," Alexander said in a statement last month.

Several GOP senators, who are currently in the middle of a two-week break, have avoided weighing in on the burgeoning battle between House Democrats and the White House or the growing Trump-Ukraine scandal. 

House Democrats are at the start of an impeachment inquiry centered on Trump's dealings with Ukraine, including a request that the Ukrainian government work with the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate the Bidens. They are also probing allegations that the president tried to withhold aid to Ukraine in an effort to get Kiev to launch such a probe.

Though several Republicans have raised concerns about Trump asking a foreign government to investigate a political rival, no Republican senator has backed an impeachment inquiry. Republicans have predicted they will quickly squash any effort to remove Trump from office, which would require 67 votes in the Senate. 

Alexander has been viewed as a senator to watch in the impeachment fight. He's retiring at the end of 2020, is well respected by senators in both parties and is an institutionalist viewed as a member of the GOP governing wing. 

Alexander indicated in his statement this week, which was first reported by The Associated Press, that he wouldn't be commenting again on impeachment until a potential trial in the Senate. 

“If the House impeaches the president, the Senate would be the jury. There would be many twists and turns between now and a Senate trial. Therefore, as a potential juror, I will have nothing more to say about impeachment until all the evidence is presented and all the arguments are made," he added.