Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was "disturbed" by Sen. Mitch McConnell's comments that he would be in "total coordination" with Trump

By Sean Neumann
December 26, 2019 12:41 PM
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Sen. Lisa Murkowski
| Credit: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Republican senator Lisa Murkowski said she was “disturbed” by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell‘s comments earlier this month that he would be in “total coordination” with the Trump Administration throughout President Donald Trump‘s upcoming impeachment trial.

Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska) told local KTUU in Alaska that she’s hoping to see a “full and fair process” play out during Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate and that she’s worried Sen. McConnell’s comments signal that might not be the case.

Earlier this month, Sen. McConnell told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would be in “total coordination” with the White House over how the impeachment trial would play out, angering Democrats and raising questions over whether it will be a fair trial.

“When I heard that I was disturbed,” Murkowski said. “To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process.”

Sen. McConnell and other Republican lawmakers have made it clear they want a quick trial in the Senate with no additional witnesses, where it is widely expected President Trump will be acquitted on his two impeachment charges.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski in June 2019.
| Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached earlier this month when the House of Representatives voted to impeach him on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over the Ukraine scandal.

Investigators found President Trump withheld about $400 million in military aid while pressuring Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky into launching a pair of investigations that would benefit Trump in the 2020 election.

The impeachment was preceded by a day-long debate on the House floor between Democrats and Republicans, who argued over the merit of Trump’s impeachment charges and later ultimately voted along party lines to impeach him.

Sen. Murkowski’s comments are a sign that some Senate Republicans may break rank and cross party lines to vote to remove the president at the Senate trial, which is expected to begin early next year.

It’s unlikely President Trump will be removed from office over his impeachment, as a two-thirds majority vote is needed to remove him and Republicans already hold a majority in the 100-seat Senate, where the vote will take place with 53 seats.

A number of prominent political voices have spoken up recently, questioning the ethics behind the Republicans’ potential handling of the Senate trial.

Earlier this month, former Fox News host Megyn Kelly said the impeachment trial is “rigged” because Republicans hold the Senate majority and will likely vote with their party to acquit the Republican president, Trump. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also voiced her concern that lawmakers have already said how they’ll vote before the trial has taken place.

“If a judge said that, a judge would be disqualified,” Ginsburg said at a New York City awards ceremony earlier this month. “One who is a judge or a trier must be able to be impartial.”

It’s unclear whether when the impeachment trial will exactly take place or whether the Senate will call additional witnesses for the trial.

Until then, Sen. Murkowski said she’s unsure how she’ll vote.

“How we will deal with witnesses remains to be seen,” Murkowski said, later adding that she doesn’t know yet how she’ll vote until the trial takes place. “For me to prejudge and say there’s nothing there or on the other hand, he should be impeached yesterday, that’s wrong, in my view, that’s wrong.”