Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced Monday that she “cannot vote to convict” President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial but nevertheless called his actions “shameful and wrong.”
In remarks on the Senate floor Monday evening, the senator had strong words for Trump, saying, “The President’s behavior was shameful and wrong. His personal interests do not take precedence over those of this great nation.”
She went on to say, “The President has the responsibility to uphold the integrity and the honor of the office, not just for himself, but for all future presidents. Degrading the office by actions or even name-calling weakens it for future presidents and it weakens our country.”
But Murkowski was also highly critical of the House and the Senate, accusing the House of rushing its impeachment inquiry and critiquing her colleagues in the Senate for lacking impartiality.
“The House rushed through what should have been one of the most serious, consequential undertakings of a legislative branch, simply to meet an artificial, self-imposed deadline,” she said.
“The House failed in its responsibilities and the Senate, the Senate, should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,” she said.
Alluding to stances taken by both Democrats and Republicans, Murkowski said, “Some have been calling for the President to be impeached for years,” while “others in this chamber saw little need to even consider the arguments from the House before stating their intentions to acquit.”
“For all the talk of impartiality, it is clear to me that few in this chamber approached this with a genuinely open mind,” she said.
Murkowski, who has a reputation as a relatively independent-minded moderate Republican, had been closely watched as a potential swing vote during the impeachment trial.
But after outlining many of her criticisms with the proceedings, the Republican senator said that ultimately she had concluded “that there would be no fair trial,” and said she could not vote to convict in the trial.
“The response to the President’s behavior is not to disenfranchise nearly 63 million Americans and remove him from the ballot. The House could have pursued censure and 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,” she said.
Murkowski suggested that ultimately voters will decide Trump’s fate.
“The President’s name is on ballots that have already been cast,” she said. “The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months, and we must trust their judgment.”