Murkowski Embarrasses Fellow Republicans For Enabling Trump

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On Tuesday, the Senate voted in favor of moving forward with impeachment trial proceedings against ex-President Donald Trump, weeks after the Democrat-led House impeached him on a charge of incitement of insurrection. Trump faced his overall second impeachment after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building while Congress was inside. While at the building, the Trump supporters hoped to forcibly stop the formal certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, which Trump spent months telling his followers was the result of fraud. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), one of six Republicans who voted in favor of moving forward with the trial, defended her vote in a Tuesday statement.

Trump allies have argued that the trial proceedings are unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, but House impeachment case managers have noted that there’s no “January exception” in the Constitution that allows presidents to escape accountability for impeachable offenses if they commit the acts in question without enough time left in their tenure for a Senate trial.

Murkowski seemed to broadly agree with this argument. After recounting the historical fact that the Senate once did, in fact, hold an impeachment trial for an ex-official — William Belknap, the Secretary of War for the presidential administration of Ulysses S. Grant — Murkowski added as follows:

‘While the Constitution does not speak directly to the issue of impeachment of a former president, the Senate is given the ‘sole power to try all impeachments,’ and the power to ‘determine the rules of its own proceedings.’ These two provisions give the Senate wide discretion when deciding whether and how to hold a trial of impeachment… I am convinced that this body retains jurisdiction over former officials… Moreover, the Senate should want to retain that authority. The American people should also want it to do so.  If a civil officer could escape any punishment simply by resigning office, the impeachment power would be rendered toothless. If the end of a President’s term meant he or she would never be held politically liable for high crimes or misdemeanors committed while in office, the lame-duck period would pose a serious danger to the stability of the country.’

She added that the “vote today was not about President Trump.” Instead, she said, it hinged on the question of Senate authority over former officials. Check out her statement by clicking on the post below:

A full 44 Republican Senators voted against moving forward with the trial on Tuesday. Besides Murkowski, Republicana who voted in favor of moving forward included Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Bill Cassidy (La.). It’s worth noting — the trial could have been held before Trump left office, but at the time, Mitch McConnell still led the Senate as Majority Leader. This week, McConnell voted against moving forward on the grounds of the allegation that it’s unconstitutional to put an ex-president on trial — but present trial circumstances are partly the result of McConnell’s own actions!