Alabama state representative John Rogers, who recently garnered attention for controversial statements about abortion, is continuing to make trouble for his one time lawyer and current United States senator, Doug Jones.
On Monday, Rogers claimed that Jones admitted in a "heated" phone call he would have to repudiate the contentious remarks, despite personally agreeing with them, lest it become a political issue in the senator's 2020 reelection. The admission came during an hour-long interview with a local Alabama radio station, as first reported by YellowHammer News.
"Everybody who knows me knows I'm combative," Rogers said. "And I told Doug that if you want to come out against me, I'm coming out here against you."
Rogers said that Jones had "called him twice" after his remarks first went viral. The first conversation appeared to go well with Jones explaining he would have to follow the politically expedient route and denounce Rogers.
"He told me, 'John, I know you're right but I [have] to come out against you,'" Rogers said. "I said, 'OK, fine, if it's going to help your campaign, do that.' That's the kind of guy I am."
The second conversation, according to Rogers, went much less smoothly with Jones "hollering and shouting." Rogers emphasized that Jones repeatedly said the comments were "hurting" his reelection chances and a public apology was in order.
"You don't chastise me, holler at me like that," Rogers said. "He issued an apology for me. I told Doug Jones, I said, 'bye.' I’m not talking to you, we don't have to talk anymore. Because I don’t appreciate that… you don't chastise me… hollering and shouting because I'm hurting your reelection. It's bigger than reelection, what I was talking about."
Rogers burst onto the national scene last week after making a controversial filibuster against pro-life legislation in the Alabama state house. In his remarks, Rogers defended abortion, arguing that "some kids were unwanted" and either "you kill them now or you kill them later" through the criminal justice system. The Alabama Democrat included children with developmental disabilities in his defense, saying that "some parents can't handle a child with problems," especially if they were born "retarded" or with "no arms and no legs."
Rogers's comments sparked widespread condemnation from state and national Republicans. The chairman of the Alabama Republican Party called the comments "abhorrent and callous." Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's eldest son—Donald Trump Jr.—decried Rogers's views as "stomach curling" and "extreme."
Rogers has remained obstinate in the face of such criticism and has refused to apologize. On Friday, when asked to respond to the junior Trump's criticism, Rogers doubled down, claiming the president's eldest son was "a very good defense" for abortion as he was "evidently retarded or crazy."
Jones, who only won his seat by 22,000 votes in a 2017 special election, initially called Rogers's comments "outrageous." The senator claimed to be "appalled" and urged Rogers to atone publicly to the citizens of Alabama. After Rogers's statements about Trump Jr. came to light, Jones took to social media to say that Rogers "does not speak for the people of Alabama and is in fact offending all Alabamians with his crude and reprehensible comments."
Jones has defended Rogers in federal corruption cases dating back to 1989, the most recent instance being in 2010.
"Doug Jones was a good friend of mine," Rogers said during the interview on Monday.