Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski will vote against any efforts to call witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, she announced in a prepared statement today.
Murkowski has been one of a handful of closely watched Republican senators who observers had hoped would call witnesses. Her announcement, along with Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement the night before, means that the Senate is headed to a speedy acquittal of Trump without calling a single witness, a first for the institution.
In her statement, Murkowski said the process was flawed from the start and that didn’t see the point in dragging it out further.
“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything,” she said. “It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.”
Murkowski had delivered one of the highlights of the Senate’s questioning of the Trump defense team, asking if there was a good reason to refuse hearing from former national security adviser John Bolton. The trial has been rocked by a constant drip of details from Bolton’s book that have suggested first-hand knowledge that the president attempted to use his official position to gain a political advantage in the upcoming election.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney had both said they are interested in calling Bolton and other witnesses but with Alexander’s admission he would oppose calling witnesses, Murkowski’s vote would have likely left the question of witnesses tied. That would have turned attention to Chief Justice John Roberts, who could have broken the tie or abstained.
Murkowski said she didn’t want to see that—apparently an unprecedented politicization of the Supreme Court—come to pass.
“It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another,” she said. “We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”
Murkowski’s admission was met with swift backlash from impeachment observers, arguing that while the senator bemoaned the flawed process she was doing nothing to solve it. Meanwhile, several Alaskans took to social media to say they expected nothing more.
The three stages of Lisa Murkowski: Concern. Disappointment. Capitulation. https://t.co/asf2ko1R57
— Pat Race (@alaskarobotics) January 31, 2020