February 26, 2021

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) didn’t hold back on Saturday when she issued a “scorching” statement on why she decided to vote to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.

“The facts make it clear that the violence and desecration of the Capitol that we saw on Jan. 6 was not a spontaneous uprising,” Murkowski said, explaining that she believes Trump “set the stage” for the insurrection months before by repeatedly pushing unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election. Trump, she said, “did everything in his power to stay in power,” ultimately calling on his supporters “to come to Washington, D.C., … to ‘Stop the Steal’ of an election that had not been stolen” and giving the crowd on Jan. 6 “explicit instructions” to march to the Capitol.

Once the riot started, Murkowski continued, Trump was “not concerned” about members of Congress, the Capitol Police, or former Vice President Mike Pence. “He was concerned about his election and retaining power,” she said.

Lawmakers were still able to finish certifying the Electoral College results that day because of “brave men and women who fulfilled their oath to protect and defend Congress. I regret that Donald Trump was not one of them,” Murkowski said as she wrapped up the statement.

Murkowski will be the first of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump to come up for re-election in 2022 (two of the senators are retiring), though any risk she may face for defying Trump is mitigated somewhat by Alaska’s unique electoral system, analysts say. Either way, Murkowski has built a reputation as one of the more bipartisan senators, so there’s no reason to think she would have changed her vote under different circumstances. Read the full statement here. Tim O’Donnell

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