Fact check: Mostly true. After chastising Elizabeth Warren without naming her for attempting to make John Roberts a target in the witness vote, Lisa Murkowski declared late yesterday that she would vote to acquit Donald Trump in his impeachment trial. However, the Alaska Republican blasted Trump, her Republican colleagues in the Senate, Democrats in both chambers, the media, and voters for their behavior throughout the impeachment process.
Did Murkowski leave anyone out? If so, it must have been an accident. “It’s my hope that we finally found bottom here,” Murkowski lamented:
“I cannot vote to convict. The Constitution provides for impeachment but does not demand it in all instances,” Murkowski said from the Senate floor, adding that removing Trump from office would be “the political death penalty.” …
“The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months, and we must trust their judgement,” she said during her floor speech.
Though Murkowski said she would vote to acquit Trump, she also publicly chastised him over his decision to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
“The president’s behavior was shameful and wrong. His personal interests do not take precedence over those of this great nation,” she said.
After that, Murkowski turned her rhetorical guns closer to home. Not only did the legislative branch utterly fail in its responsibilities in impeachment, Murkowski declared, but they’ve failed institutionally for a lot longer than just during the Trump presidency:
“The House failed in its responsibilities and the Senate — the Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,” Murkowski said. “So many in this chamber share my sadness for the present state of our institutions. It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here.”
During her speech, Murkowski condemned the House for what she said was a rush through the impeachment process, while also criticizing her Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle for failing to approach the impeachment trial with an open mind. She lambasted the media for what she called “careless coverage” when Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not immediately send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate after they passed in the House.
Actually, she accused the media of more than just “careless” coverage, and her colleagues of more than rushing through the process:
Alluding to a “demon” burning its way through Washington during the impeachment process that began late last September, Murkowski blamed “a careless media” that she said “cheerfully tried to put out the fires with gasoline.” …
She cited Trump supporters’ eagerness to “have just dismissed the case as soon as it reached” the Senate and Trump’s detractors’ acting as if “the only way the trial could have been considered fair was if it resulted in the president’s removal from office.”
With a broad-brush criticism of both political parties, Murkowski spoke of their “apparent willingness…to destroy not just each other, but all of the institutions of our government. And for what? Because it may help win an election?”
Fact check: Mostly true. Democrats and some of the media tried some forced swooning over Adam Schiff’s closing speech, but this is the speech that everyone deserves. It might be the most populist speech by nature we’ll hear in Congress this session, although undoubtedly the populists on both sides will be unhappy about it. It’s the speech of an institutionalist who has realized that the institution has betrayed her in the end, thanks mainly to her fellow institutionalists.
Murkowski’s declaration leaves Democrats with only one potential crossover vote to convict — Mitt Romney, as Allahpundit wrote yesterday. We still haven’t yet heard from the handful of Democrats who might cross in the opposite direction, but Murkowski likely won’t be the last to declare a pox upon both houses. Her speech might convince Joe Manchin, Krysten Sinema, or Doug Jones to join her — or maybe all three. The Everyone Else Stinks Caucus looks pretty attractive at the moment.