Murkowski votes to proceed with 2nd impeachment trial, Sullivan votes against

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Republican colleagues spoke at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. (Photo by Liz Ruskin)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of six Republicans who voted Tuesday to proceed with ex-President Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Afterward, Murkowski said the House managers presented “a pretty good legal analysis” that a trial is constitutional. She was among several senators to criticize Trump’s opening attorney, Bruce Castor, as meandering. Murkowski called it a missed opportunity.

“In fairness, I was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump,” she said. “I couldn’t figure out where he was going. [He] spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don’t think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from on the constitutionality of this.”

Her office later issued a statement saying her vote wasn’t about Trump. She said she’s convinced the Senate has the constitutional power to try a former president and should retain that power.

“If a civil officer could escape any punishment simply by resigning office, the impeachment power would be rendered toothless,” she said in the written statement. “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.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan, like most Republicans, voted in agreement with Trump’s lawyers, who argued the Senate can’t try a person who is no longer in office.

His press secretary says Sullivan has grave concerns about “what this vast expansion of Congress’ impeachment powers will mean for our country’s future.”

The final vote was 56-44. The five other Republicans who voted with the Democrats in favor of an impeachment trial were: Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Mitt Romney of Utah; Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Opening arguments in the case begin Wednesday.

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