From left to right, U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, sit side by side during a U.S. Coast Guard event in Juneau on Friday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

From left to right, U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, sit side by side during a U.S. Coast Guard event in Juneau on Friday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Alaska delegation differs on Trump indictment

Murkowski, Sullivan say matter is serious, but clash on merit; Peltola says she trusts process.

Alaska’s congressional delegation differs on the implications of the indictment of former President Donald Trump on federal charges unsealed Friday related to his handling of classified documents.

As all three visited Juneau on Friday for a U.S. Coast Guard change-of-command ceremony.

Republican U.S. Sen Lisa Murkowski, differing from many leaders in her party who say the indictments are politically motivated, said the charges raise “serious concerns” about Trump’s actions involving the documents.

“I always start by saying no one is above the law,” she said. “And yet, when you look at a series of seven charges here, it would appear to me that they are serious, they cannot be casually dismissed — they have to look very critically at this.”

Murkowski said she does not believe this is a case of a Democratic administration going after a former president from the opposing political party.

“It ought not matter who you are — whether you are a former president, whether you are an intelligence analyst who kept classified documents — these are serious matters that no one can pretend that they have the ability to look the other way of the law,” she said.

Murkowski said there needs to be additional information and proof to sway her to think otherwise.

Differing from Murkowski — and echoing many leaders who denounced the indictment — Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, who stood just a few feet away in a separate conversation, referred to a prepared statement he issued before the event, in which he said “the worst thing for our country is for Americans to start to believe that the Justice Department and FBI provide two tiers of justice.”

“You got my statement and that’s what I’m sticking to,” he said during the event, noting he’s unfamiliar with the details of the indictment. He repeated that comment further multiple times before adding “there are some broader implications here that I think are very troubling for the country at large.”

“What I try to do for Congress is get things done for the state, for the country and will this impact that? I don’t know, but I hope not,” he said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, who is serving her first full two-year term, was guarded in her reaction to the indictments.

“I am a strong believer in the judiciary and the process that takes place, and I have every confidence that this will go through the process in the right way,” she said, noting that as a legislator “I need to stay in my lane.”

The indictment may affect the business of an already divided Congress, Peltola said.

“I don’t know that it could have gotten worse,” she said. “It may push it to an even worse direction. Things seem to only be getting worse.”

Murkowski agreed.

“We were already divided before,” she said. “But, keep in mind this is not the first round of indictments against the former president — we are now in round two.”

Murkowski also noted Congress already had to go through two impeachment proceedings with Trump.

“You cannot take lightly charges of indictment on a former president — it’s not just something that somebody says ‘hey, let’s give Trump a bad day’ — it doesn’t happen,” she said.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

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