Sen. Doug Jones downplays political implications of a vote to remove Trump from office

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., brushed off concerns on Sunday that a vote to remove President Trump from office would doom his chances of reelection in 2020 in his deeply conservative Southern state.

Jones, who became the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate since 1997 after winning a special election in 2017, argued that the looming trial in the Senate following Trump’s impeachment is more important than electoral politics.

“Everyone wants to talk about this in the political terms and the political consequences term,” Jones said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “This is a much more serious matter than that.”

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Jones added: “This has to do with the future of the presidency and how we want our presidents to conduct themselves. It has all to do with the future of the Senate and how the Senate should handle impeachment and articles of impeachment that come over. That’s how I’m looking at this.”

Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a 2017 special election to fill the Senate vacancy created when Jeff Sessions became President Trump’s first U.S. attorney general. Now considered the Senate’s most endangered Democrat, Jones is seeking a full term in office in the usually reliably red state.

His 2017 victory was aided by scandal when Moore, already a divisive figure among state voters, was accused of sexual misconduct. Several women said Moore pursued romantic and sexual relationships with them when they were teens and he was a prosecutor in his 30s.

David Hughes, a political scientist at Auburn University at Montgomery, said Jones will face an “extremely uphill battle.”

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Jones is running in a year when Trump, who is intensely popular in the state, will be on the ballot, driving GOP turnout, Hughes said. He also will be running again against Moore as well as Sessions, who is seeking to take back his seat.

Jones played down speculation by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he will defect from the Democrats in a vote to acquit the president.

“I have no idea what Mitch McConnell’s talking about these days,” Jones said, adding that he needs a “full and complete picture” to make his decision on removing Trump from office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.