Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Friday he supports President Trump‘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 Warren (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.”
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 Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (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.
“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.
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. 8/15
— Sen. Lamar Alexander (@SenAlexander) January 31, 2020
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 Rubio (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.