Murkowski, Sullivan explain their impeachment decisions

A makeshift gallows erected near the U.S. Capitol by protesters. (Jan. 6, 2021) Photo courtesy of Tyler Merbler/Flickr

In the wake of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Alaska’s two Republican senators both condemned the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol, then explained at length their votes on impeachment — one in favor and one opposed.

Their statements of Saturday, Feb. 13, explaining why they split the vote, came hours after the Senate acquitted Trump of inciting the armed insurrection that left five dead and dozens injured.

For Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted in favor of impeachment, the decision to say “yes” was clear.

The former president swore when he took office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and he failed to uphold that oath, Murkowski said.

Trump did everything in his power to stay in power, and when those efforts failed, he turned to his supporters, she said. “He urged his supporters to come to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 to ‘Stop the Steal’ of an election that had not been stolen,” the senator said.  Once there his supporters were prepared to march on the Capitol and he gave them explicit instructions to do so, she said.

After the mob stormed the Capitol, breached both chambers of Congress and interrupted the certification of Electoral College votes, Trump took no action for hours, even when those storming the Capitol chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.” Even after the storm ebbed, Trump endorsed the mob, by tweeting “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day.” One positive outcome of the events of Jan. 6, she said, was that hours after the Capitol was secured, at 4 a.m. on Jan. 7, Congress came together again to fulfill its responsibility to the Constitution and certified the Electoral College results.

Sen. Dan Sullivan voted against impeachment, saying that he does not believe the Senate has jurisdiction to try a former president who is now a private citizen. “The Senate claiming that jurisdiction contradicts the intent of the Framers to the detriment of our constitutional order. Additionally, the House Managers provided the former president with no due process — and argued none was required — and side-stepped the First Amendment defense of his speech,” he said.

Sullivan said he condemned Trump’s “poor judgment in calling a rally on that day, and his actions and inactions when it turned into a riot. His blatant disregard for his own vice president, who was fulfilling his constitutional duty at the Capitol, infuriates me.”

Still, the vast majority of Alaskans who supported Trump and were appalled by the insurrection support Trump because of his policies that help Alaska, he said.