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

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Tenn.) said President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE's discussions with foreign governments about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRon Johnson signals some GOP senators concerned about his Obama-era probes On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' 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 McConnellOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate Democrats say White House isn't budging in coronavirus relief stalemate 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.