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 AlexanderPelosi urges early voting to counter GOP's high court gambit: 'There has to be a price to pay' Graham: GOP has votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy MORE (R-Tenn.) said Friday he supports President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act 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 WarrenOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds On The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package Warren, Khanna request IG investigation into Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds 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 RomneyCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (R-Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Democratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Poll: 57 percent of Americans think next president, Senate should fill Ginsburg vacancy 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 RubioSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McConnell pushes back on Trump: 'There will be an orderly transition' 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.