By Paddy Notar
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the kind of attorney that I could see as being great when it comes to asking questions at deposition hearings and filing motions with the clerk of courts but she is not the type of lawyer I would want defending me in front of a jury. The reason for that can be explained by the way she handled herself at President Trump’s impeachment trial, where, once again, she failed to follow through on her resolve.
Murkowski, one of the more moderate Republicans, was all about how Trump misused his power regarding Ukraine and she constantly talked about how she wanted to hear from witnesses, especially former National Security Adviser, John Bolton. Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a private chat with her and everything changed.
Suddenly, Murkowski came out and said that there was no need for witnesses because the whole process was so partisan and unfair. Wasn’t her vote to keep witnesses out of the trial just that-a partisan gesture that made the trial unfair? It makes you wonder what our senator truly stands for if not her own her morals.
Remember when Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, one of President Trump’s billionaire friends who never attended public school, was trying to get confirmed by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions? Murkowski, who sat on that committee told Alaska Public Media in January of 2017, “I have serious concerns about a nominee to be Secretary of Education who has been so involved in one side of the equation, so immersed in the push for vouchers, that she may be unaware of who is broken in our public schools or how to fix it.”
Murkowski later said that every nominee of the president deserves to go to the full senate for a confirmation vote. What? Let me get this straight. You don’t like the person because you think they can’t do a good job, due to the fact that they’re unqualified but you’re allowing them to get through the committee and onto the senate floor? That makes no sense…unless you’re Lisa Murkowski.
“Do know that she has not yet earned my full support, and when each of us have the opportunity to vote aye or nay on the floor, I would not advise that she yet count on my vote,” she said.
She later voted ‘yea’ on the Senate floor to the DeVos appointment. “Why did she do that?” you’re wondering. Probably because she was under pressure to allow DeVos to give her the vote on the committee, but why would you vote someone to be Secretary of Education who isn’t even close to being qualified to be a teacher? If Murkowski voted ‘nay’ DeVos has to pack her bags and go home and that’s a big no-no with daddy McConnell.
Then, Murkowski did a head count in the senate and found with her “nay” vote it would create a 50-50 tie and Vice-President Pence would break it in favor of DeVos being confirmed.
Now, she could truly vote how she felt with no repercussions. That was a close one, but it was just another calculated, wimpy move. Even some of my wimpy friends were making fun of her and that’s saying something.
In Federalist Paper 65, Alexander Hamilton made it very clear what role the Senate should have and why a president could and should be removed from office:
“The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” I think that statement says it all and at the very least you should talk to as many witnesses as necessary to prove or disprove if this is happening. After all, we’re talking about removing a president from office, but with Murkowski it’s all about moving things along and asking others how they’ll vote. I don’t understand how she could so simply abandon her duties as a United States Senator. She did take an oath to be an impartial juror, right? I really don’t think she took into account what historians are going to write about her years from now.
National polls of all kinds had 60 percent or more of respondents wanting to hear from witnesses in the Trump trial. A Quinnipiac University poll showed that 75 percent of Americans wanted to hear from witnesses. “This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge. Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton?” Murkowski asked the White House defense team.
Then she had a private, 20 to 30-minute meeting with McConnell. What he said must have been either incredibly enlightening or vaguely threatening because everything Murkowski stood for seemed to change regarding witness testimony and once again, one of her wimpy excuses was utilized. “I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” she said. “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.” Then she voted, “yea” on Sen. McConnell’s motion to reject calling witnesses.
No senator, you failed. You failed on a personal level to hold strong with your integrity. Who gives a damn what’s popular or how bad of a performance this whole impeachment process has been? You owe it to your constituents and the constitution to follow through and you blew it in a big way.
No longer will you be trusted by the public when you promise anything. No longer will be looked up by people as an absolute advocate of someone’s cause who won’t later turn on them.
You’ve proven yourself unworthy to be called “Independent.” In the end, you failed anyone who sought the truth.
When I asked friends about Murkowski’s vote that will undoubtedly taint her career, they were surprised but it wasn’t the kind of surprise like you can’t believe what just happened. It was one of those sad looks like, “She fell in line, as usual.”
In the end, you hope that someday Murkowski will be independent of her party when it comes to her values, especially during an impeachment trial. After all, that’s what defines one’s character.
Unfortunately, Alaskans are still waiting for that day to come and with her current behavior we shouldn’t look for it any time soon.
In the meantime, perhaps Murkowski, reflecting on her days as President Trump’s impartial juror, can take in the words of Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”