Tennessee U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is retiring in less than a year and never will face voters again. He therefore would have had nothing to lose and perhaps much to gain had he suggested more witnesses were needed in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
However, the state's senior senator, in his usual measured tones and plainspoken words, said more witnesses are unnecessary.
"If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist," he said late Thursday night. "It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party."
With Alexander's decision, barring something unforeseen, the impeachment trial is likely to come to an end this weekend, with senators expected to vote not to convict Trump of the two articles of impeachment the House found against him in December.
The senator's much-anticipated statement says what this page and many Republicans have long acknowledged — that the president's July phone call with the president of Ukraine was not proper, but did not "meet the Constitution's 'treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors' standard for an impeachable offense."
Alexander said Trump had admitted mentioning political rival Joe Biden in the call and had released a transcript of the call in October. He, "at least in part," tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens," he said.
"The question then is ... whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did," he said. "I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision."
We believe Alexander is exactly right and look forward to the American people having their say in November.