- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2020

Two Republican Senators — Lamar Alexander and Joni Ernst — defended their decisions to support President Trump in the impeachment trial Sunday, despite having reservations about the actions he took.

Mr. Alexander, the retiring lawmaker from Tennessee, believes the facts of the case are as the Democrats lay out — the president did ask for investigation and held up military aid because of it — but didn’t believe removing him from office so close to an election was appropriate.

“I don’t think he should have done it, I think it was wrong,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“If he was upset about Joe Biden and his son and what they were doing in Ukraine, he should have called the attorney general,” he added. “Maybe he didn’t know to do it.”

Mr. Alexander was one of the handful of Republican senators Democrats were hoping would join them in voting to extend the trial with new witnesses and documents.

Like Mr. Alexander, a handful of other Republicans, like Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Robert Portman of Ohio, agree that the president’s actions were inappropriate but don’t rise to the level of impeachment.

“He speaks for lots and lots of us,” Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska told reporters last week after Mr. Alexander announced his decision.

Ms. Ernst, Iowa Republican, said she believes the president was justified in investigating corruption in Ukraine, even if he did have mixed motivation for doing so. However, she did say Mr. Trump should have used official procedures to do so.

“I think generally speaking, going after corruption is the right thing to do, but he did it in the wrong manner. But I think that he could have done it in different channels,” Ms. Ernst said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mr. Trump was impeachment by House Democrats in December on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges stemming from allegations that he, along with a handful of senior administration members and lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pressured Ukraine into opening investigations into his political rival Joesph R. Biden.

Senators will take the final vote Wednesday, the day after Mr. Trump delivers his State of the Union address, where acquittal is all but inevitable.

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