Just one Republican senator that voted to convict President Donald Trump on Saturday has to face voters next year. But she does not seem to care about the political fallout.
“If I can’t say what I believe that our president should stand for, then why should I ask Alaskans to stand with me?” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in a lengthy interview after she joined six other Republicans to convict Trump. “This was consequential on many levels, but I cannot allow the significance of my vote, to be devalued by whether or not I feel that this is helpful for my political ambitions.”
Trump won Alaska by 10 points in 2020, a sign that many in the state will be upset about her vote. But Murkowski’s political strength has proven surprisingly durable, and she famously won a write-in campaign after losing a primary in 2010 to conservative candidate Joe Miller.
But the reaction from pro-Trump activists could be volcanic this time around, given that she’s the only Republican with immediate political risks ahead of her that voted to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol. She said she’s “sure that there are many Alaskans that are very dissatisfied with my vote, and I’m sure that there are many Alaskans that are proud of my vote.”
The moderate Republican also voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, considered convicting Trump in 2020 and bristled at her party’s moves to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the November election last fall. Yet since the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, Murkowski telegraphed her potential conviction vote by imploring Trump to resign.
As she entered her Capitol hideaway to finish her official statement on her vote to convict Trump, she gestured at where there had been trash and broken glass from rioters that desecrated the building and recalled the sound of a police officer “retching” because he’d been sprayed with pepper spray. She said what made her “soul happy” on Saturday was the memory that Congress finished certifying the election later that day.
“We did it because we had some extraordinary men and women that were willing to stand up and defend and protect. And that was good,” she said. “I just wish that Donald Trump had been one of them.”
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