Murkowski votes to proceed with 2nd impeachment; Sullivan votes to stop

woman stands at podium. men in suits on either side of her.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Republican colleagues spoke at a press conference in 2019. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is one of six Republicans who voted Tuesday to proceed with ex-President Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Afterward, Murkowski said the House managers presented “a pretty good legal analysis” that a trial is constitutional. She was among several senators to criticize Trump’s opening attorney, Bruce Castor, as meandering. Murkowski called it a missed opportunity.

“In fairness, I was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump,” she said. “I couldn’t figure out where he was going. (He) spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don’t think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from on the constitutionality of this.”

Her office later issued a statement saying her vote wasn’t about Trump. She said she’s convinced the Senate has the constitutional power to try a former president and should retain that power.

“If a civil officer could escape any punishment simply by resigning office, the impeachment power would be rendered toothless,” she said in the written statement. “If the end of a President’s term meant he or she would never be held politically liable for high crimes or misdemeanors committed while in office, the lame-duck period would pose a serious danger to the stability of the country.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan, like most Republicans, voted in agreement with Trump’s lawyers, who argued the Senate can’t try a person who is no longer in office.

His press secretary said Sullivan has grave concerns about “what this vast expansion of Congress’ impeachment powers will mean for our country’s future.”

The final vote was 56-44. The five other Republicans who voted with the Democrats in favor of an impeachment trial were Sens. Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), Susan Collins (Maine), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), and Patrick Toomey (Pennsylvania).

Opening arguments in the case begin tomorrow.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska issues in Washington as the network's D.C. correspondent. She was born in Anchorage and is a West High grad. She has degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. She previously worked at the Homer News, the Anchorage Daily News and the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers. She also freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013. She's @lruskin on Twitter. She welcomes your news tips at lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz

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