Indicting House Democrats for their rush to judgment, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Monday night she will vote to acquit President Donald Trump of the articles of impeachment against him.
Murkowski, who has sparred politically and philosophically with Trump, was considered a swing vote in the Senate, which has a 53-47 Republican majority.
Conviction requires a two-thirds majority.
Politico said that as of Monday, 34 senators had publicly sided with the president, meaning Democrats will not have the votes to remove Trump from office.
The focal vote is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.
“The House rushed through what should be one of the most serious, consequential undertakings of the legislative branch simply to meet an artificial, self-imposed deadline,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor. Her comments were posted on her website.
“Prior presidential impeachments resulted from years of investigations, where subpoenas were issued and litigated,” she said. “Where there were massive amounts of documents produced and witnesses deposed. Where resistance from the executive was overcome through court proceedings and accommodations.
“The House failed in its responsibilities. And the Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display.”
“We cannot be the greatest deliberative body when we kick things off by issuing letters to the media instead of coming together to set the parameters of the trial and negotiate in good faith how we should proceed,” Murkowski said. “For all the talk of impartiality, it is clear that few in this chamber approached this with a genuinely open mind.
“Some have been calling for this president to be impeached for years,” she continued, noting that during the trial, video clips have been unearthed showing calls for impeachment 19 minutes after Trump took the oath of office. “Others saw little need to even consider the arguments before stating their intentions to acquit.
“Over the course of the past few weeks, we have all seen the videos from 20 years ago, where members who were present during the Clinton trial took the exact opposite stance than they take today. That level of hypocrisy is astounding even for a place like Washington D.C.,” she said, referring to the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton.
“The president’s behavior was shameful and wrong,” Murkowski said, later adding, “Degrading the office, by actions or even name-calling, weakens it for future presidents, and weakens our country.”
Murkowski said impeachment has split the country.
“For half the country, there had already been far too much process. They consider the entire impeachment inquiry to be baseless and thought the Senate should have dismissed the case as soon as it reached us. For the other half, no matter how many witnesses were summoned or deposed, no matter how many documents were produced, the only way the trial would have been considered ‘fair’ was if it resulted in the president’s removal from office,” she said.
“The response to the president’s behavior is not to disenfranchise nearly 63 million Americans and remove him from the ballot,” Murkowski said. “The House could have pursued censure, not immediately jumped to the remedy of last resort. I cannot vote to convict. The Constitution provides for impeachment but does not demand it in all instances. “
“The president’s name is on ballots that have already been cast. The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months, and we must trust their judgment,” she said.
Murkowski closed by looking at the broader state of the nation.
“The question that must be answered, given the intense polarization in our country, is where do we go from here? Sadly, I have no definitive answers. But I do have hope — because I must have hope,” she said.
“As I tried to build consensus over the past few weeks, I had many private conversations with my colleagues,” the senator said. “Many share my sadness for the state of our institutions.
“It is my hope that we have found the bottom. That both sides can look inward and reflect on the apparent willingness each has to destroy not just each other, but all of the institutions of our government. And for what? Because it may help win an election? At some point — for our country — winning has to be about more than just winning — or we will all lose.”
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