Lamar Alexander on Witnesses

Not unexpected, but hardly a profile in courage.

From Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) statement about witnesses:

The Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.

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.

So, Alexander seems to be accepting that Trump did what he did (and so there is no need to hear from Bolton to further confirm what is known) and that it was “inappropriate.”

It is disappointing, but hardly surprising, that he thinks seeking to solicit foreign interference in our elections is simply “inappropriate.”

As I noted recently, the election argument is a key argument we are going to hear a lot as the Senate votes not to remove.

I will say that since the outcome is inevitable, I am not surprised that there is no appetite for dragging out the process (although I do think witnesses should be called).

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. James Joyner says:

    I was finishing up a post arguing that we don’t need witnesses as you published this.

    I agree with you that Lamar! is acting shamefully here, in that I don’t think he believes what he’s saying. He would certainly have thought these actions impeachable if Obama had done them. Or either Clinton.

    Still, I’m not sure what it is that we’d find out from calling witnesses that we don’t already know. Or what difference it could possibly make.

  2. @James Joyner: I agree that the outcome isn’t going to change, witnesses or not.

    It is nonetheless disappointing, from a normative point of view, that Lamar! is unwilling to take a moral stance from his position as a retiring Senator.

  3. steve says:

    There would be entertainment value in witnesses. It would make it harder for the Trump fanboys to deny that Trump is guilty and they would have to revert back to the argument that it wasn’t serious enough to merit impeachment. (Now if Trump had done something really serious like lie about sex that would be different.) But you are right, it wouldn’t change anything. Republican senators are not going to risk losing a primary.


  4. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Still, I’m not sure what it is that we’d find out from calling witnesses that we don’t already know. Or what difference it could possibly make.

    So, you know what Bolton would say?

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    The voters are the ultimate deciders and by stopping witnesses Lamar is depriving the public of evidence useful in making their decision. There is no rational excuse. This is just jury nullification by a party that now openly endorses corruption. A cover-up. A criminal conspiracy in which Republican Senators are as guilty as Trump.

    This is why we should not stop short of setting the destruction of the Republican Party as our goal. It’s not enough to say well, they’re racist and we should oppose their racism. Or they’re corrupt and we should oppose corruption. No, I’m sorry, but the Nazi Party, the Communist Party, the Dixiecrat Party, Franco’s Falangist Party, Mussolini’s Fascists, the Khmer Rouge all needed to be and were destroyed as parties. The Nazi Party was not reformed, it was destroyed.

    How dare I compare the GOP to the Nazis? It’s pretty easy, actually, if you compare the GOP not to the Nazis in their final iteration, but in their earlier years. GOP 2020 and Nazi Party late 1920’s, early 1930’s? Racism, nativism, mysticism, pseudo-science, phony economics, a worship of the military, the mindless obedience to a strongman, attacks on civil institutions, corruption of the courts. . . You don’t wait till the weeds are ten feet tall, you pull them out as soon as you spot them.

  6. dazedandconfused says:

    I suppose that if they agree that Trump is guilty of all charges but don’t find that impeachable witnesses are a waste of time…at least from their perspective. They know it would’ve been but for the letter behind his name.

    On some level the Rs are probably glad this all happened. Unless Trump has lost his mind he will think twice before pulling something like this again anytime soon. They know they don’t have the courage to stand up to him themselves…at least not yet.

  7. a country lawyer says:

    @dazedandconfused: Would that were so. Unfortunately Trump will not think twice and avoid a repeat. He will be emboldened to repeat knowing the Republicans in the Senate and the House will never hold him accountable. They have now locked themselves in by defending his actions and will have to endure whatever misdeeds he commits in the future.

  8. Pete S says:


    Unfortunately I think that Trump actually will pull a few things, much more blatant, and much quicker. It is kind of like when he forced Mike Pence to stay 2 hours away from his meetings in Ireland, at a Trump hotel. As much as Trump chases every last nickel in both legit business and corrupt, it was not about the money. It was to make sure Pence is a full participant in the Trump grift machine.

    And now Trump owns the Republican senate even more than he did 2 weeks ago. They are not just going to vote for a pre-decided refusal to remove. They are publicly refusing even to investigate or listen to evidence, and are providing self-mocking reasons why. They are part of this now and Trump knows it. He could walk out of the Fed stuffing bills in his pocket and no Republican would look twice at him now. It is in the open and he got away with it and the jury is now part of the scam.

  9. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Michael Reynolds:


    Sadly, most are not aware of the run up to power of the Nazi party.

    And some get stuck on the fact that it was the National SOCIALIST (!!!) Party… not realizing the Hitlet and his ilk overtook that small party by running Hitler and having the brownshirts vote.

    Sort of like how the GOP has been usurped by Trumpism.

    I used to LOVE to have long conversations with conservatives, on policy and perspective. Ya can’t do that with a Nationslist Trumpist.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Supposedly, Alexander has actually committed some kind of damage against Trump…this seems dubious at best, especially considering the author of this theory…