Alabama U.S. Senators ready for juror roles in impeachment, Doug Jones calls for witnesses, documents

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Alabama's U.S. Senators -- Republican Richard Shelby and Democrat Doug Jones -- are among those who will be asked to hear the evidence in the impeachment trial against President Trump and ultimately offer a verdict.

It would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove the president from office.

The House impeached President Trump in December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, setting the stage for only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

Thursday's opening of the impeachment trial of President Trump was largely ceremonial.

The Senate formally accepted the House articles of impeachment against the president.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in as presiding officer and he, in turn, swore in 100 U.S. Senators as jurors. Senators must still vote on the rules of the trial,  and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that will happen early next week.

A spokeswoman for Shelby said he views the impeachment case against President Trump as weak but added that he will sit as a juror and carefully consider the evidence presented.

During a conference call Thursday morning Jones addressed his role as a juror, and the content of the oath Senators swore on Thursday.

"This oath will be to do impartial justice, according to the Constitution," Jones said. "During the upcoming impeachment trial, which we anticipate to begin in earnest next Tuesday, after the King holiday, I want you all to know that the gravity and the seriousness of my oath and my duty to our country is at the forefront of my mind as we take on this responsibility."

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In an interview with Politico on Thursday, Senator Shelby weighed in on the Government Accountability Office finding that the Trump Administration broke the law in withholding Congress-approved money for Ukraine.

"I wouldn't think that a GAO opinion, per se, would change anything," Shelby told Politico. "But we'll listen to it, we'll look at it, and we'll evaluate it."

"I don't think they should be deciding who broke the law," Shelby said.

As the news on Thursday about Ukraine continued to unfold, Jones renewed his call for witnesses at the trial.

"I have said all along, that we should have more witnesses, we need to have witnesses who have firsthand information, there's been a number of witnesses called -- there's been very few that have any firsthand information," Jones said. "Like (former National Security Advisor) Mr. Bolton, like (Trump aide) Mr. Blair, like (budget office aide) Mr. Duffey, like (White House Chief of Staff) Mr. Mulvaney and now, (Giuliani associate) Lev Parnas..."

"We'll see how it goes, but that will end up being quite frustrating if we have to make a decision only on the information that's in front of us. And not giving the American people and the people of Alabama, who voted for President Trump, an opportunity to get the full picture, whatever that picture may be," Jones said.

The impeachment trial is set to resume on Tuesday.

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