Jones Pushes for Witnesses to Testify During Trump Trial, Talks About Tensions With Iran

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala. (Source: Ralph Alswang )

The U.S. Senate should conduct a “full, fair and complete” trial of President Donald Trump that includes the testimony of witnesses and the presence of the president’s lawyers to question them, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said Thursday.

“I have said consistently that I believe the American people deserve a full, fair and complete trial,” Jones said. “Justice that is fair and impartial requires witnesses, documents and the pursuit of truth over everything else. It appears that we may not be headed for a trial with witnesses.”

During his weekly telephone news conference with Alabama reporters, the freshman Democrat said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has announced rules that would allow presentation of evidence and questions from senators before taking up the question of whether witnesses will be allowed.

“I sincerely hope that … the Senate will adopt a standard going forward that brings in witnesses. That means we need to hear from people like John Bolton and everyone else who has first-hand information,” Jones said, adding that he believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should go ahead and send articles of impeachment to the Senate.

“The president has criticized the House for conducting a proceeding in which he didn’t have lawyers present to conduct cross examination,” Jones said. “He’s going to have that here … He’s going to have his counsel here. They are going to have the ability to examine and cross-examine witnesses. So let’s hear from them.”

Jones, who is up for re-election this year, said he has reached no conclusion on the guilt or innocence of Trump.

“I want to hear from the witnesses. I’m still looking at this. I’m not going to start talking about where I am right now.”

He said candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run against him in November’s general election are not weighing the facts of the case.

“There’s not a single one of them that are really looking at the evidence and examining the evidence, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m looking at this from the standpoint of my constitutional duty, the oath that I’m going to take to be an impartial juror and do impartial justice.”

Tensions With Iran

Asked about tensions with Iran over the killing of military commander Qasem Soleimani last week, Jones said the top priority of Republicans and Democrats alike is the security of American troops and citizens. Statements by some Republicans that Democrats are mourning the death of Soleimani are untrue, he said.

“There is no one mourning the death of this man,” Jones said. “He is responsible for the murder of untold numbers of people, including Americans, and the world is a safer place without him.”

Jones said he was pleased with the president’s speech Wednesday because it seemed to have been an effort to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East.

But lawmakers from both parties are pressing the administration to state its long-term goals for American strategy in the region, Jones said.

“As we sit here today, the president has at least publicly talked about a strategy that tries to pull troops out of the Middle East,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are 15,000 more troops in the Middle East today than there were at the beginning of the summer.

“We need to get the administration to talk to us about that their long-term plans are.

“I think Congress is more than capable, in a bipartisan way, of helping craft a long-term strategy. There are people on both sides of the aisle that are concerned about where we are and what we are doing.”