Senator Lisa Murkowski delivers sobering speech on Senate floor before impeachment vote: "I cannot vote to convict."
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Monday. She discussed the upcoming vote on the articles of impeachment of President Donald Trump, the current state of partisanship in Congress, and the future of America.
Murkowski maintained a somber tone throughout her speech. She began by decrying the manner by which the House of Representatives conducted the impeachment proceedings.
Murkowski expressed disappointment at the House’s decision to rush proceedings “simply to meet an artificial, self-imposed deadline.”
She added that previous impeachments had “resulted from years of investigations, where subpoenas were issued and litigated. Where there were massive amounts of documents produced and witnesses deposed. Where resistance from the executive was overcome through court proceedings and accommodations.”
Murkowski then turned her ire to the Senate, saying “The Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display,” and “For all the talk of impartiality, it is clear that few in this chamber approached this with a genuinely open mind.” She said that some members of Congress had waited 19 minutes after the President was sworn into office to begin calling for his impeachment, while on the other side some had made up their mind to acquit him before hearing any evidence.
She alleged that several Senators who had been present for the Clinton impeachment changed their stances during Trump’s. “That level of hypocrisy is astounding, even for a place like Washington D.C.,” she punctuated the sentiment.
Murkowski argued that it was this partisanship which had “rotted the foundation of the process.” She added that the trial had been held in the Senate, but “litigated in the court of public opinion.” Thus, she concluded, there could be no fair trial.
She further conjured metaphors which bolstered the gravity of her words, saying that “during the month that the House declined to transmit the articles [of impeachment] to the Senate, the demon of faction extended his scepter,” and thus the outcome of the trial was made clear.
Even the media was called out. “A careless media cheerfully tried to put out the fires with gasoline,” she said of the impeachment proceedings, referencing the Senate debating allowing more witnesses rather than the facts of the case.
Murkowski concluded by saying that she could not vote to convict President Trump. She also issued a concession, and perhaps a warning. “Through the refusal to exercise war powers, or relinquishing the power of the purse, selective oversight, and an unwillingness to check emergency declarations designed to skirt Congress,” she said, “We have failed time and time again. We cannot continue to cede authority to the executive.”
“It’s my hope that we have finally found bottom here,” Murkowski said, “that both sides can look inward and reflect on the apparent willingness that each has to destroy not just each other, but all of the institutions of our government. And for what? Because it may help win an election?”
“At some point, Mr. President, at some point, for our country, winning has to be about more than just winning. Or we will all lose.”