U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue a joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue a joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Murkowski on impeachment: ‘I will listen carefully’ to both sides

As for timing, the senator said, “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a news release Thursday that she had not decided how she would vote when President Trump’s impeachment trial reaches the Senate.

“When the Article of Impeachment comes to the Senate, I will follow the oath I made when sworn as a U.S. Senator. I will listen carefully and consider the arguments of both sides, and will then announce how I will vote,” Murkowski said in the statement.

Murkowski became the first Republican senator to call for Trump to resign after the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection. Alaska’s lone House member, Republican Rep. Don Young, voted against impeachment, saying in a statement, “our nation must recover from the deep wounds of division that have driven us apart over the past few years, but I do not believe that impeaching a president in the last week of his term is the best way forward.”

[Alaska Republican Young votes against Trump impeachment]

The timing of the impeachment trial in the Senate is unknown, according to Murkowski’s statement, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said it will not occur before the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden. Murkowski said she agreed with McConnell’s decision, saying “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C., and across the country as we allow for an orderly and peaceful transfer of power.”

While saying she had not yet decided how she would vote on impeachment, Murkowski laid blame for the riot squarely at Trump’s feet.

“For months, the President has perpetrated false rhetoric that the election was stolen and rigged, even after dozens of courts ruled against these claims,” she said. “When he was not able to persuade the courts or elected officials, he launched a pressure campaign against his own Vice President, urging him to take actions that he had no authority to do.”

Murkowski distanced this impeachment from Trump’s first impeachment, in January 2020, which she called partisan.

“The resolution to impeach President Trump for a second time passed by a vote of 232-197, representing the most bipartisan support and the largest number of votes for a presidential impeachment,” she said.

If Trump were convicted in the Senate, he would be barred from holding public office in the future, something Murkowski said Wednesday would be appropriate considering the circumstances, The Associated Press reported.

“Given what we have seen from his actions and his failure to uphold the Constitution,” she said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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