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Sen.-elect Jones says he’ll be independent, doesn’t think Trump should resign

UPDATED: Sun., Dec. 17, 2017

Doug Jones is greeted by a supporter before speaking during an election-night watch party Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
Doug Jones is greeted by a supporter before speaking during an election-night watch party Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
By Ben Bain and Mark Niquette Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON – Days after being elected in an upset in one of the most Republican of states, Sen.-elect Doug Jones had a message for his new colleagues: I’ll work with both parties.

The Alabama Democrat, whose long-shot candidacy was boosted by allegations of sexual misconduct against his Republican opponent, also said President Donald Trump doesn’t need to resign, as some members of his party have urged.

“Don’t expect me to vote solidly for the Republicans or Democrats,” Jones, the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in more than two decades, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

“One of the problems in American politics right now, in my opinion, is that everybody thinks, because you’re a member of one party or another, you’re going to vote a certain way,” Jones said. “And that should not be the case.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and other Democrats in Congress have called for Trump to resign over allegations by at least 16 women that he engaged in sexual misconduct. Jones, who faced Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama race – who was accused of inappropriate sexual contact with teenagers when he was in his 30s – echoed comments made by the Trump administration that the voters have spoken.

“Those allegations were made before the (2016) election, and so people had an opportunity to judge before that election,” Jones said when asked whether Trump should resign. “We need to move on and not get distracted by those issues. Let’s get on with the real issues that are facing the people of this country right now.”

The allegations against Moore turned the race for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old seat into a national drama at a moment when the U.S. is dealing with revelations of sexual harassment in politics and business. Jones’ win cut the Republicans’ narrow 52-48 majority in the 100-seat Senate.

Moore has refused to concede defeat, and instead is asking supporters to donate to an “election integrity fund” to root out what he says – without providing evidence – is voter fraud. Jones said Sunday that “Alabama has spoken,” and that he’s starting to assemble his Senate staff.

Congress is expected to vote this week on the Republican tax bill. Jones said he’s concerned that the bill has been rushed through without adequate review. Jones said he doesn’t think the bill would produce enough economic growth to pay for itself.

Jones also said he supports extending deportation protection for 800,000 young undocumented immigrants covered by President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He opposes Trump’s call to build a wall on the southern U.S. border as an unnecessary expense.

The incoming Alabama senator said on CNN that he supports Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and rejected complaints from some Republicans that there is bias against Trump.

“I don’t see any taint at this point,” Jones said.

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