Cracks may be appearing in the Senate Republicans’ unified impeachment resistance. Yesterday, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska gave an interview where she described feeling uncomfortable with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan on working closely with President Trump as he fights impeachment.
Currently, details of the Senate trial are in limbo—Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding the right to call witnesses and produce evidence, while McConnell has said that nothing of the sort will take place.
Murkowski, a moderate known for her independent streak, told an Alaskan TV station that McConnell "confused the process" when he said that he would be acting in "total coordination" with the White House when it comes to the trial’s rules.
"And in fairness, 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,
Murkowski is by no means a sure vote to impeach Donald Trump. In the same interview, she critiqued House Democrats, saying they should have waited to impeach the president until they’d heard from John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney. “If the House truly believed that they had information that was going to be important, they subpoena them, and if they ignore the subpoena as they did, at the direction of the White House, then that next step is to go to the courts,” she said.
Still, Murkowski’s unease at the prospect of meekly going along with McConnell’s plans to get the trial over with quickly could prove crucial. She has demonstrated her willingness to buck leadership before, as when she helped torpedo ACA repeal and voted against Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation.
While most Republicans have already dismissed the Democrats’ impeachment case, Murkowski expressed a willingness to judge the case on the merits. “If it means that I am viewed as one who looks openly and critically at every issue in front of me rather than acting as a rubber stamp for my party or my president, I’m totally good with that,” she said.
Only a few Republicans in the Senate sharing her views would tip the scales in favor of Schumer, and, ultimately, towards the fair trial that America deserves.