Doug Jones says he will vote to convict Trump

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), viewed as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat running in November, said on Wednesday that he will vote to convict President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE on both articles of impeachment.

"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," he said in a statement.

Jones's announcement comes hours before the Senate's votes on the two House-passed articles of impeachment: abuse of power over the delayed Ukraine aid and obstructing Congress's investigations into those actions.

Jones has insisted for weeks that he is undecided on how he would vote, telling reporters on Monday that he was "getting there" but still wanted to review notes and talk to colleagues. 
 
He sparked speculation last month that he could split his votes — convicting on one and acquitting on the other — when he told USA Today that he has "concerns" about the House manager's second article of impeachment, which deals with alleged obstruction of Congress. 
 
Jones acknowledged on Wednesday that the second article "gave me even more pause," adding that he "struggled to understand" the House's strategy. 
 
"However, after careful consideration of the evidence developed in the hearings, the public disclosures, the legal precedents, and the trial, I believe the President deliberately and unconstitutionally obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with the investigation in any way," Jones said. 
 
Jones added that Trump's actions "demonstrate a belief that he is above the law" and if left unchecked would risk guaranteeing that no future whistleblower or witness will ever come forward and no future President ... will be subject to Congressional oversight."
 
On the first article, abuse of power, Jones said he was "deeply troubled" by the arguments from Trump's legal team.
 
"The President’s actions placed his personal interests well above the national interests and threatened the security of the United States, our allies in Europe, and our ally Ukraine. His actions were more than simply inappropriate. They were an abuse of power," Jones said.
 
Jones has long been viewed by Republicans, and some of his own colleagues, as one of the few Democratic senators who could vote to acquit Trump on one or both articles of impeachment. Two others, Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline | US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds | Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic MORE (D-W.Va.) and Krysten SinemaKyrsten SinemaWhy Trump, GOP are running into trouble in Arizona Gun control group to spend at least million in Arizona ahead of November Democratic super PAC targets McSally over coronavirus response MORE (D-Ariz.), are viewed as potential swing votes but have given no indication about how they will ultimately vote.

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The vote comes as Jones is fighting to hold on to his seat in the deep-red state of Alabama. He won a two-year term in 2017 when he defeated former state judge Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Judge allows Roy Moore lawsuit over Sacha Baron Cohen prank to proceed Senate outlook slides for GOP MORE, who faced multiple accusations of sexual contact with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

Now Jones is facing a cascade of potential GOP challengers, including Moore, Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneJerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne Jeff Sessions loses comeback bid in Alabama runoff Sessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff MORE and former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Tuberville breaks DC self-quarantine policy to campaign MORE, who held the seat for decades before stepping down to join the Trump administration.

A JMC Analytics and Polling survey released late last year found that 39 percent of voters in Alabama support impeaching Trump, compared to 54 percent who oppose it.

That's a hard shift from several national polls that have shown the country evenly divided on whether to remove Trump from office and underscores the danger for Jones if he votes to convict Trump.

Jones appeared to brush off the potential political consequences on Wednesday.

“I did not run for Senate hoping to participate in the impeachment trial of a duly-elected President, but I cannot and will not shrink from my duty to defend the Constitution and to do impartial justice," he said.
 
Republicans immediately seized on Jones's decision as the beginning of the end of his Senate career. 
 
"The Senate Leadership Fund would like to be the first to congratulate Doug Jones on his impending retirement from politics. ...It's clear Jones has decided he's better off auditioning for a low-level Cabinet slot in a Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election Warren urges investment in child care workers amid pandemic Progressive candidate Bush talks about her upset primary win over Rep. Clay MORE Administration than reflect the will of Alabama." said Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group aligned with Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (R-Ky.).