Alexander on Trump impeachment: Open to more info, witness testimony if believes necessary

Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tenn., makes a opening statement to start the hearing on the nomination of Eugene Scalia to be Labor Secretary on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

NASHVILLE - Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says he's open to seeking additional information and having witnesses testify if he thinks it's necessary during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

With the impeachment trial expected to begin Thursday, the three-term Tennessee senator also said he doesn't favor immediate dismissal by the GOP-controlled Senate of the articles of impeachment by the Democratic House.

"I think we should hear the case," Alexander said in a statement Wednesday. "We have a constitutional duty to do that."

What "that means to me, number one, [is] hear the arguments," Alexander added. "Number two, to ask our questions. Number three, to be guaranteed the right to vote on whether we need additional evidence following hearing the case.

"Evidence could be witnesses," continued Alexander, who is retiring at the end of this third term. "It could be documents."

He told a Washington-based reporter earlier this week that is "precisely what they did in the Clinton impeachment that was a hundred to zero vote for that procedure and I think that's good precedent."

There are 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and 2 independents in the Senate. Alexander is now one of four GOP lawmakers saying they are willing to consider witness testimony.

Former national security adviser John Bolton has said he is willing to testify in the impeachment which involves charges Trump abused the power of his office by withholding military aid from Ukraine and a White House.

House impeachment articles charge the president and aides sought to force Ukraine's president to investigate former Democratic Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden's son's appointment to the board of a Ukranian gas company.

Other Republican senators voicing openness to obtaining additional documents and hearing testimony are Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Trump is the third U.S. president to go before the Senate on House impeachment charges. The first was President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee in 1868, the other was President Bill Clinton in 1999. Neither was convicted on articles of impeachment which require approval by a two-thirds majority of senators.

Contact Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.