Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) took to the senate floor today to tell Americans that Donald Trump wasn’t innocent in the Ukraine scandal.
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.
Murkowski is the first of a small group of potential swing-vote senators to announce her decision ahead of Wednesday’s expected final vote.
“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.”
Asked by reporters off the Senate floor if she had any advice for Trump, she quipped as the elevator doors closed, “Read the transcript.”
Murkowski indicated that Trump’s fate should be left up to voters, noting that 2020 ballots were already being printed.
“The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months, and we must trust their judgement,” she said during her floor speech.
Meanwhile, centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) today urged the Senate to censure Trump, predicting a formal reprimand could pick up bipartisan support.
“I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his actions in this matter. Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines, and as an equal branch of government to formally denounce the president’s actions and hold him accountable,” Manchin said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Manchin’s proposal has received little traction among Senate Republicans who control the schedule, but it could gain the support of a handful of Republicans who have expressed concern over Trump’s actions, including Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Murkowski.
Manchin warned that if the Senate failed to respond in a bipartisan way to Trump’s attempt to solicit foreign influence in the 2020 election, it would represent a serious setback for the chamber.
“His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms,” Manchin said. “History will judge the Senate for how we have handled this solemn constitutional duty.”
Manchin, however, said he is undecided on how to vote Wednesday on the two articles of impeachment passed by the House alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
He has told reporters that he will not make a decision until shortly before the vote.
Manchin’s censure resolution would “condemn” Trump’s conduct “in the strongest terms,” according to a copy of the proposal.
It urges “future Congresses” to “recognize the importance of allowing this statement of censure and condemnation to remain intact for all time.”
The resolution states that Trump used his office to “attempt to compel a foreign nation to interfere with domestic political affairs for his own personal benefit” and that he “wrongfully enlisted his personal lawyer to investigate a domestic political rival by meddling in formal diplomatic relations.”
It also states that the president “hindered the thorough investigation of related documents and prohibited Congress and the American people from hearing testimony by firsthand witnesses with direct knowledge of his conduct.”