Heh. By 2019 this dude will be a Republican railing against abortion on the Senate floor. And he still won’t get reelected after Alabama Republicans wise up and nominate a more respectable opponent than Roy Moore next time.

Jones going to bat for Trump here is less interesting than the fact that the standard he proposes for sexual misbehavior by members of Congress is likely to become the unofficial rule on Capitol Hill. Simply put, let the people decide. Conceivably Congress could have a standard in which a member should be pressured to resign if and only if the accusations against him weren’t made public before his last election. The idea would be that if the voters weighed the evidence against him and elected him anyway then the matter is settled, as the jury has rendered its verdict. If the voters elected him before hearing any accusations against him, well, then the verdict is tainted because key evidence wasn’t presented at the election/trial. Arguably, in that case the member should step down. That would mean Trump is in the clear whereas Franken had to go.

But that standard wouldn’t work. You know what the future Frankens will say: “I’ll serve out my term and then let the voters/jury render their verdict on the accusations against me when I stand for reelection.” Just because an accusation wasn’t made before the last election is no reason to assume that it would have led to Franken’s defeat if it had been. Trump has been accused of far worse and won a national race. “Let the people decide” will quickly become the rule on the Hill for accused congressmen, unless what they’re accused of is so beyond the pale that the party can’t tolerate being burdened by their continued service. (Perfunctory toothless statements by colleagues that the accused member should resign, which are ignored and then quickly forgotten, may also become part of the SOP.) Some Dems are already having misgivings about pushing Franken out, for cripes sake. Franken-style resignations will soon be a thing of the past.

There’s a middle-ground option. An accused member could resign and then run in the special election to fill his seat, giving voters an early opportunity to render a verdict on the accusations against him. But that would turn special elections into pure referenda on the scandal and the national party wouldn’t tolerate having a tainted incumbent as nominee for the seat when it could nominate someone much stronger.

Tricky business for the Dems here, though: One big reason they pushed Conyers and Franken out is because they want to be well positioned to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations against Trump if they take back either chamber of Congress next fall. They’ll want to maintain a zero-tolerance posture or something close to it among their own caucus until then to minimize tu-quoque rejoinders from the right when they come after Trump. (They’re going to get those rejoinders anyway, in spades, over Bill Clinton and the Kennedys but at least in those cases they’ll be able to say the offender left office years ago.) The media’s already calling Trump out for claiming that he didn’t know and/or never met any of his accusers when old photos exist of him with some of them. Imagine if Dems retake the Senate next year, something that’s suddenly possible only because of Jones’s titanic upset, and then suddenly Jones has to decide whether to support or oppose the new Democratic Senate majority investigating Trump’s sexual behavior. Does he break with the party in that case, infuriating liberals, or does he stick with the party, infuriating Alabama’s Republican majority?