Throughout the impeachment trial, all eyes have been on four senators – Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) – who are considered "toss-up" voters. It's hard to gauge exactly how they plan to vote, especially when those votes are along party lines. On Friday night, Murkowski and Alexander all voted along with their Republican colleagues to block new witnesses, something the House Impeachment Managers have pushed from the start. Both Collins and Romney sided with Democrats.
According to Alexander, the House impeachment team proved President Donald Trump withheld more than $300 million in military aid to Ukraine as a means of forcing Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for corruption. Alexander believes Trump's actions were "inappropriate," but they certainly aren't impeachable, USA Today reported.
“I think it was a mistake ... I think he shouldn't have done it,” Alexander explained. “abuse of power is such a vague term. It doesn't mean anything.”
Even though Alexander said the House Democrats proved that correlation between the investigation and the military aid being withheld, he believes President Trump deserves to be acquitted. He took an issue with the articles of impeachment that came from the House simply because it was a partisan effort, something that draws a stark contrast to the impeachments of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
"I was reminded during the arguments of how the founders, James Madison particularly, felt there should never ever be a wholly partisan impeachment,” Alexander told USA Today.
In his mind, Trump's conduct didn't meet the high crimes and misdemeanors clause to remove him from office.
“We're pretty accustomed in our everyday life to being able to distinguish between things that are inappropriate and things that deserve capital punishment,” the Tennessee senator explained. “When you don't give capital punishment to somebody who left the scene of an accident, you disapprove of what they did. You may penalize them in the next election, but you don't throw them out of office, and tell the American people they can't vote for him in the election that's already underway.”
The three things that sealed Alexander's decision: the articles of impeachment being partisan; the bar for impeachment being lowered; and how close we are to the 2020 election.
Coming to the decision is something Alexander said was "gradual" and happened over the course of the arguments throughout the week. He tried to look at the evidence and be impartial, just like a judge or juror is supposed to be. And he knows his vote – the deciding vote in whether or not to call for additional witnesses – will go down in history.
"I hope what they'll remember is I listened to carefully, insisted that we heard the case, and did what I thought was right," he explained.
Although he received numerous calls and emails from those on both sides of the aisle, he said he never heard from the White House or felt pressured by members of his party.
"He knows better than to try to tell me how to vote," Alexander said of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, someone he's known for 50 years.
At the end of the day, the Tennessee senator said he looked at the evidence as an impartial juror and came to his decision.
"There wasn't any way I could, you know, maneuver my way through that, so the only way I could do it was just listen and make decisions," he said. "And what I decided was, you did it. You shouldn't have done it. But under the Constitution, the people should decide when the President does something that's simply inappropriate. That's for the voters."
Editor's note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Sen. Susan Collins voted against witnesses. She actually sided with Democrats and voted to hear from witnesses.