Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a floor speech Tuesday morning that she will vote to acquit President Donald Trump on Wednesday, dashing Democrats’ hopes that the GOP would have multiple defections from its caucus.
Murkowski said Tuesday she “cannot vote to convict. The Constitution provides for impeachment but does not demand it in all instances.”
In this case, Murkowski continued, she found the president’s behavior to be “shameful and wrong,” but it was not enough to remove Trump from office.
Removal, Murkowski said, was “the political death penalty,” and Trump’s future should instead be left up to Americans, who will vote on whether to give Trump a second term in office later this year.
“The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months, and we must trust their judgement,” she said.
Although Murkowski sounded unconvinced by the House impeachment managers’ case against the president, she seemed to lay the blame for her decision on the Democrats themselves and the partisan rancor that has tainted this process from the beginning.
“The House failed in its responsibilities and the Senate — the Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,” Murkowski admonished her colleagues in her Senate speech. “So many in this chamber share my sadness for the present state of our institutions. It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here.”
“During her speech, Murkowski condemned the House for what she said was a rush through the impeachment process, while also criticizing her Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle for failing to approach the impeachment trial with an open mind,” according to Politico. “She lambasted the media for what she called ‘careless coverage’ when Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not immediately send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate after they passed in the House.”
The “careless” media, she added, “cheerfully tried to put out the fires with gasoline,” and torched her colleagues for their “apparent willingness…to destroy not just each other, but all of the institutions of our government. And for what? Because it may help win an election?”
Murkowski is the first of five “undecided” Senators — three Democrats and two Republicans — to declare which way she will vote. The other Republican, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who tried to lead a Republican insurrection against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and force additional witness testimony in Trump’s impeachment trial, is the other holdout. Politico says, however, that Republicans expect Romney will not break ranks and that the GOP will chalk up a unanimous vote to acquit Trump.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are also reportedly on the fence. Manchin is a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump and is considered the most likely Democrat to defect. Collins is facing an uphill re-election battle in deep red Alabama, and Sinema is a wild card whose votes are unpredictable. She’s been speaking, Politico says, with both Democrats and Republicans about the issue.
The final Senate vote will come on Wednesday.