Impeachment trial will supercharge battle for Senate

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), easily the party’s most endangered senator up in 2020, said Sunday he intends to hear the evidence and dismissed suggestions that a vote to convict Trump would cost him his seat in ruby-red Alabama.

“If I did everything based on a pure political argument all you’d need is a computer to mash a button,” Jones said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s just not what this country is about. It’s not what the founders intended to do.”

Jones will be hearing the evidence first-hand, but Democratic challengers are also preparing for the trial. Candidates like Mark Kelly in Arizona, Theresa Greenfield in Iowa and Sara Gideon in Maine have pledged to follow it closely and echoed calls from Schumer for a “fair trial” including administration witnesses.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is running against Gardner, said there was “clear evidence” Trump had abused his power and “should be impeached.” He did not call for removal from office but said the “Senate needs to have a fair trial, and that the president’s aides have to be allowed to testify.”

But Hickenlooper, like other Democratic candidates, faces pressure from his left flank. Primary competitors in a handful of Senate races are already calling for Trump to be removed from office. Andrew Romanoff, who is running to Hickenlooper’s left, has called for Trump’s removal, contrasting his position with both Gardner and Hickenlooper in a recent fundraising email.

A similar scenario has played out in Maine, North Carolina and Texas, where party-endorsed candidates are calling for a fair trial but are undecided on removing Trump from office while progressive competitors are already saying they would vote for removal.

Cal Cunningham, who was endorsed by the DSCC in North Carolina, has previously said there was evidence Trump committed an abuse of power. In a statement last week, he said he was “alarmed” that Tillis and McConnell had “admitted their priority is to help cover for the president” on administration officials testifying, but did not state a position on removing Trump. His primary opponent, state Sen. Erica Smith, has gone further.

“If I were in the United States Senate, given what I would have received from the House on the articles, I would be an independent arbiter of the facts,” Smith said. “And as the facts are showing now, it would be a vote to impeach and remove.”