U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the first Republican senator to break ranks last week to call for President Donald Trump to resign for the lies and incitement that lead to the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol and today she says the House acted “appropriately” with its vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday.
In a statement today, Murkowski said there’s a direct connection between Trump’s actions and the violent mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol, leading to five deaths including the death of a police officer. She said it can’t go without consequence.
“For months, the President has perpetrated false rhetoric that the election was stolen and rigged, even after dozens of courts ruled against these claims. When he was not able to persuade the courts or elected officials, he launched a pressure campaign against his own Vice President, urging him to take actions that he had no authority to do,” she said in a prepared statement. “On the day of the riots, President Trump’s words incited violence, which led to the injury and deaths of Americans – including a Capitol Police officer – the desecration of the Capitol, and briefly interfered with the government’s ability to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence and the House has responded swiftly, and I believe, appropriately, with impeachment.”
Wednesday’s vote in the House saw 10 Republicans join Democrats in calling for the president’s removal from office. Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young, who was in office when Nixon resigned and voted to impeach former President Bill Clinton, was not among them.
The articles of impeachment now head to the U.S. Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he does not plan on bringing them up until Jan. 19 at the earliest, which is the day before Biden’s inauguration. That essentially leaves the effort to the incoming Democratic majority, which will also be tasked with confirming appointments and passing a new covid relief bill.
They’ll need 17 Republican votes in addition the 50 votes of the Democratic majority. A vote to convict Trump after he leaves office would still allow the Senate, through a simple majority vote, to prohibit Trump from running for office again.
But whether Murkowski—who said she’s wrestling with her future in a Republican party that’s beholden to Trump’s worst impulses—will vote to convict when the articles of impeachment reach the chamber is not yet clear. She says she’ll wait on the trial.
“Our nation’s founders gave the Senate the sole power to try all impeachments, and exercising that power is a weighty and important responsibility. When the Article of Impeachment comes to the Senate, I will follow the oath I made when sworn as a U.S. Senator. I will listen carefully and consider the arguments of both sides, and will then announce how I will vote,” she said. “The timing of an impeachment trial in the Senate is currently unknown, but Leader McConnell has made clear that it will not take place prior to inauguration. I fully support that decision as our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, DC and across the country as we allow for an orderly and peaceful transfer of power.”
Why it matters
Monitoring Murkowski’s tepid concern and disappointment with Trump has become a running joke as every statement of concern and disappointment has generally not been backed up with significant action (though, the vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act was and is still pretty significant, in our books).
Still, whether she’s had enough of Trump or is emboldened by the election reform measures passed in Ballot Measure 2 (which does away with the semi-closed Republican primary that would almost certainly elect a more Trump-friendly challenger) statements calling for the president to resign and calling his impeachment appropriate is a pretty big deal.
Her statements along with criticism from other Republican senators like McConnell, Romney and Sasse at the very least signal that the long reflexive, disappointed-yet-enabling attitude is eroding among some.