GOP Sen. Murkowski says she will vote against witnesses, calls impeachment articles 'rushed and flawed'

The Alaska lawmaker said she didn’t want to involve Chief Justice John Roberts in the process in case of a tie vote.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced Friday she will vote against hearing from witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, likely dooming Democrats’ hopes of hearing testimony from witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the president’s conduct.

Murkowski’s decision increases the likelihood that Trump’s Senate impeachment trial will be the first in American history with no witness testimony.

“The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed,” Murkowski said in a statement. “I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.”

She added, “Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.”

At this point, only two Republican senators are expected to vote in favor of hearing from witnesses – Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine. Democrats had hoped Murkowski, who has bucked Trump in the past, join Romney and Collins. Republicans have a 53 seat majority in the 100-member Senate, and a majority vote is needed to approve witnesses.

Murkowski’s decision means Democrats appear to have just 49 votes, barring any surprise switches from GOP senators.

If Murkowski had voted with the Democrats, the split would have been 50-50, and would have at least opened the door to the possibility, however unlikely, that Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, could cast a tie-breaking vote.

Murkowski’s statement said she didn’t want to put Roberts in the position of deciding.

“It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice,” she said. “I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.”

Democrats needed to win over four Republicans in order to reach a 51 vote majority. But their hopes dampened early Friday morning when retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced he would vote against additional witnesses.



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