Alexander supports Trump's reelection despite 'inappropriate' Ukraine call

Alexander supports Trump's reelection despite 'inappropriate' Ukraine call
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderLawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The Trump administration's harmful and immoral attack on children MORE (R-Tenn.) said Friday he supports President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE's reelection bid despite acknowledging that the president asked Ukraine to investigate his political rival, the issue at the center of Trump's impeachment.

In an interview with The New York Times, the longtime Republican lawmaker contrasted Trump with his possible Democratic challenger Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives MORE (D-Mass.) and touted the president's accomplishments in his first term.

"Whatever you think of his behavior," Alexander told the Times, "With the terrific economy, with conservative judges, with fewer regulations, you add in there an inappropriate call with the president of Ukraine, and you decide if you prefer him or Elizabeth Warren.”

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Alexander, who retires after his term expires in 2021, spoke with the Times after announcing Thursday night that he would vote against calling witnesses for the Senate impeachment trial, putting the chamber on track to swiftly acquit the president.

The Senate voted later Friday not to call for witnesses, setting up a vote to acquit the president next week.

Alexander was among those Republican senators who voted "no" in the 49-51 decision, with Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOrange County declaring local health emergency in response to coronavirus Why Bernie Sanders won the debate Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response MORE (R-Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Democrats block two Senate abortion bills MORE (R-Maine) the only Republicans to buck their party and join Democrats in calling for new witness testimony.

In his statement Thursday night, Alexander explained his reasoning against calling for further witnesses. He said while he believed the allegations against Trump have merit, he did not find that they warranted removing him from office.

Alexander suggested that such a decision be made by Americans at the ballot box in November.

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“The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did,” Alexander said.

Though Alexander didn't deviate from his party in voting to skip witness testimony, his stance does differ from many of his colleagues who argue that Trump did not use withheld aid to Ukraine for his own political gain.

On Friday, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Energy: Critics pile on Trump plan to roll back major environmental law | Pick for Interior No. 2 official confirmed | JPMorgan Chase to stop loans for fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic MacGregor confirmed as Interior deputy chief GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman MORE (R-Fla.) took a similar stance, claiming he too believed the allegations against Trump were substantiated, but that doesn't mean that it is in "the best interest of the country" to remove him from office. 

The impeachment trial is expected to conclude as soon as Wednesday.