Senator Lisa Murkowski on Friday announced that she would vote against allowing the Senate to consider whether to call any additional witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
In a statement, Murkowski said that because House Democrats had chosen to send “rushed and flawed” articles of impeachment to the Senate, she would not vote to allow further consideration of witnesses or documents to “cure the shortcomings of its process.”
“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” she said. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.”
While a “yes” vote by the Alaska Republican would have raised the possibility that a 50-50 tie could be broken by Chief Justice John Roberts, she stressed that she would neither stand for or support efforts by senators to drag the judicial branch into politics by involving Roberts in further proceedings.
“We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another,” she said. “We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”
Murkowski, a Republican who has served in the Senate since 2004, when her father, then-Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski, appointed her to fill the seat he’d occupied prior to his inauguration.
A “no” vote on witnesses by Murkowski would leave Senate Democrats with only Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, joining Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s 47-member conference in voting for additional witnesses or documents.
Instead, she joins the 50 other Republicans who have announced their intention to vote against witnesses when the Senate finishes a four-hour period of debate on Friday evening.
Another Republican who Democrats had hoped would break with Trump and his allies, Sen. Lamar Alexander, announced his intention to vote “no” on witnesses late Thursday.
In a statement explaining his decision, Alexander, R-Tenn., said House Democrats had more than proved that Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukraine’s president into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, but he added that such behavior, while “inappropriate,” was not sufficient cause to remove Trump from office just months before the 2020 election.
Without additional witnesses, it is likely that the Senate will hold a vote to acquit the president before the close of business on Friday, with the added possibility that vulnerable red-state Democrats such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin or Alabama’s Doug Jones will join Republicans in voting for acquittal just days before Trump is set to deliver the annual State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress.
While speaking to reporters Friday morning, Schumer said it was “deeply disturbing” that Republicans would vote against hearing witnesses.
“It’s clear where the American people stand on the issue,” Schumer said. “Republican Senators who decide to go against the will of the people will have to reckon with it.”