Sen. Doug Jones (D., Ala.) said much of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint depended on "hearsay" and that Congress cannot impeach officials based on hearsay during a Sunday interview on MSNBC's Kasie DC.
Jones broke with House Democrats when he criticized the whistleblower allegation that launched the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The first-term senator said he was skeptical of using secondhand complaints as the basis for removing a sitting president from office, echoing the sentiments of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.).
"A lot of that allegation, a lot of the whistleblower complaint is in fact hearsay. It is what other people have told him. That is clear on its face. I think Senator Graham was right, you don't impeach somebody based on hearsay," Jones said.
The whistleblower who raised concerns about Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky did not hear the conversation firsthand, but learned about the call from U.S. officials who had direct knowledge of the call. Despite Jones's hesitation to impeach based on "hearsay" alone, the senator criticized the White House's attempt to dismiss the complaint. He said President Trump is wrong to criticize the whistleblower complaint as a sham and a setup, noting that concerns about Trump's potential abuse of power are legitimate.
Guest host Ayman Mohyeldin asked Jones why he is reluctant to move forward with impeaching the president.
"Well, we still don't have all the facts," Jones responded. "We need to get the facts. Whenever you get to an impeachment vote if it gets there, it needs to be based on facts. It doesn't need to be based on mere allegations and one transcript."
House Democrats announced the formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. The proceedings focus on allegations that Trump asked Zelensky to "look into" former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over the latter's high-paid role at Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company. Democrats allege Trump used military aid as leverage to pressure Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election.