Sen. Lamar Alexander (BA ’62) at the helm of Senate impeachment trial

Alexander, third-term TN Senator and former editor of The Hustler, has indicated that he is open to the possibility of voting to call witnesses.


Emily Gonçalves

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Justine Del Monte, Staff Writer

Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Senator and Vanderbilt alumnus, is making headlines. 

Alexander, a Republican who is known for breaking with President Trump on a number of issues, is one of the moderate Republicans who has expressed interest in potentially calling witnesses to the Senate impeachment trial.

The Senator has said that he will step down at the end of this term, his third, when it expires next year. Alexander graduated from Vanderbilt in 1962 and was an editor of The Hustler.

On Tuesday night, Republican Senate leaders indicated that they did not have sufficient votes to block Democrats from calling witnesses.

“Conservatives said the case for moving directly to acquittal without new testimony or documents was overwhelming, but key moderates, including Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, said they were still undecided,” a Jan. 28 New York Times article said.

A small “Remind Lamar: NO SHAM TRIAL” protest took place in Nashville Sunday Jan. 26. A handful of protesters held signs with messages such as “We deserve to hear witnesses” and “Do the right thing,” according to photos posted from the event. The organizer of the protest did not respond to request for comment. 

“I think we’ve done a very good job of doing what the House managers asked to do. We’re hearing the case, eight or nine hours a day. We’re going to hear the president’s arguments. We’re going to listen to the answers to questions, study the record and then we’ll see if we need more evidence at that point. I’ll make my decisions after I hear all of them,” Alexander said in a statement emailed to The Hustler.

Alexander is referring to the decision of whether to call witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial or proceed directly to closing arguments, which is followed by a vote on whether to remove Trump from office. Removing Trump from office would require 67 votes.

 A book from former national security advisor John Bolton reignited the conversation about the importance of calling witnesses in the Senate trial. In his book, Bolton expresses concern that Trump was  “effectively granting personal favors to” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey Mr. Erdogan and President Xi Jinping of China, as reported Jan. 28 by the New York Times. 

Bolton has said that he would testify in the impeachment hearing if called. The vote on whether to call witnesses is expected to take place Friday Jan. 31. Bolton is slated to speak on campus Feb. 19. 

Political science professor Carrie Russell said that Alexander should vote to hear from Bolton.

“He and every other sentient Senator should look back to their first days as a public servant and remember why they ran for office in the first place.  They ran because they thought they were level-headed enough to make tough decisions in the best interest of their families, their communities,” Russell said in an email to The Hustler. “They ran because they know that you have to run to make policy, and that policy will only be as good as the people who make it.  He has nothing to lose and everything to gain by showing leadership in a time when so many politicians care more about their donor lists than they do about their oath of office. But I’m not holding my breath.”

Eva Durchholz and Rachel Friedman contributed reporting to this article.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported Alexander’s graduation year. Alexander graduated from Vanderbilt in 1962.