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Sen. Lisa Murkowski: Trump committed an impeachable offense; it would be ‘appropriate’ to bar him from holding office again

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions...
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Washington.(Greg Nash/Pool via AP)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 1:10 PM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski believes that President Donald Trump has committed an impeachable offense by inciting an attack against the U.S. Capitol and said that it would be “appropriate” to bar him from holding office again.

As Murkowski spoke from Washington D.C., the U.S. House of Representatives was debating and preparing to vote on an article of impeachment that charged the president with “inciting violence against the government” on Jan. 6.

Comparing this impeachment process to Trump’s first impeachment over withholding military aid to Ukraine, Murkowski said that was “a highly, highly, highly, highly partisan process, this is different.”

She said support for impeachment from Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican in the House, showed that this impeachment was not wholly partisan and that it is appropriate to consider.

Murkowski stopped short of definitively saying that she would vote to convict the president after a Senate trial, but only because she would need to listen to the president’s defense team. If this was a criminal trial, she said that she would not be seated as a juror because she has shown her bias.

“I will do what I am required and entrusted to do as a senator, as effectively listening to that trial and that proceeding, and I will make that determination at that time,” Murkowski said. “But what I will tell you is that what I believe is that this president has committed an impeachable offense through his words on the sixth of January, and leading up to the sixth of January, when he was not honest to the American people about the election and the election results.”

It’s unclear when a trial might begin in the Senate. The Senate is due to convene on Jan 19., one day before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. It would require all 100 senators to vote for the Senate to meet before then, which Murkowski said wouldn’t happen, meaning a trial would likely begin during a Biden administration.

But regardless, she said that Congress must pass a measure to condemn the president’s actions whether that be through impeachment or the censure process. “There must be a consequence for this action,” Murkowski added.

If the Senate did convict the president, another unprecedented action it could then take is barring Trump from holding office again.

“I think that is one of the most consequential actions that we could take, and I think that would be appropriate,” Murkowski said. “Given what we have seen from his actions and his failure to uphold the Constitution.”

Alaska’s junior Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan condemned the violence in the U.S. Capitol last week but was more circumspect about a Senate trial.

“When a trial is conducted, I will be a juror, and I will thoroughly examine the arguments and evidence presented, including any defense mounted by the President’s legal team,” Sullivan said through a prepared statement. “I will not rush to judgment or make rash statements until this constitutional process has run its course. I will uphold my duties to Alaskans, our fellow Americans, and to the Constitution.”

Alaska’s lone member of the House of Representatives Republican Rep. Don Young did not join 10 of his GOP colleagues in voting to impeach Trump. He also condemned the violence at the Capitol.

“We must lower the temperature of our political climate, and begin to recognize that our toxic discourse can have dangerous consequences. As I have said before, it is on all of us, including President Donald Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to tone down the rhetoric and help foster a political climate worthy of this great country,” Young said through a prepared statement.

Last week Murkowski said that she was questioning her future in the Republican Party if it stayed closely aligned with Trump, but that she “absolutely, positively” would not be caucusing with Democrats.

On Wednesday, she didn’t spell out a timeline for when she might make a decision about her GOP membership. Murkowski said she wanted to see introspection from the party and from colleagues who had “aided and abetted” the president in making false claims about election results.

“Does that mean I’m bolting from the party? No,” she said.

A majority of Alaskans voted for the president on Nov. 6, but Murkowski wanted to separate that support for Trump with last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“And I don’t want people to feel that because I believe so strongly that the president has not honored his oath that somehow that I am dishonoring them and their vote for him,” she said.

Murkowski credits the Trump administration with policy achievements that she says have benefited Alaska, but believes the violence at the Capitol may damage how his term in office is remembered. “I believe his legacy will only reflect the last few weeks which is unfortunate,” she said.

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