By Chuck Legge
Thank you Lisa Murkowski. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways. In a previous column I praised you for standing up to senate leadership and crying foul when majority leader McConnell confessed he had no intention of conducting a fair trial. McConnell’s admission that he was going to be working hand-in-tiny hand with the White House during the impeachment trial made you stop and think for a minute that maybe this might be the wrong way to go about things. Ah, that brief, shining moment of clarity.
In that column I acknowledged my distrust of all things Republican since the hostile takeover of the party by Trump. I also acknowledged my admiration for your principled stand as Mitch McConnell tried to railroad this process through the Senate. As it turns out, McConnell is still the engineer and you, unfortunately, are just a ticket taker. So thank you, Senator Murkowski, for confirming my original assessment of the Republican Party.
Just where in your soul searching did you come to the conclusion that a trial without witnesses was in the public interest? If, as the President’s defense states, all the testimony in the House was from witnesses with no direct knowledge, why not hear from someone who was in the room? Where is your principled stand now senator?
This is what you have left us with. The fluid defense of Trump has gone from didn’t do it, perfect call, no ‘quid-pro-quo,’ to ‘Article Two gives me the authority to do anything I damn well please.’ As an aside, take the President’s advice and read Article Two. There’s nothing in there about divine right of kings. Your decision to vote no witnesses, which would have put the Senate in a tie and could have moved the decision to Chief Justice Roberts, has in effect granted an unstable leader unchecked power. This is where you, Senator Murkowski, have put us.
As for the House not doing its job and subpoenaing Bolton in the first place, they were going to do just that. Bolton and his attorneys responded by saying they would sue the House and the ensuing legal action would drag on through the courts for well past the coming election. Oops, I tipped my hand about getting this done before the election.
The problem is this impeachment goes to the integrity of the electoral process. In other words, it’s about Trump abusing his formidable power to cheat in the upcoming election. That’s why time is of the essence.
That’s why the House did not subpoena Bolton. That’s why there are still pending cases concerning other witnesses they did subpoena, but who refused to respond as per the President’s orders.
Since you are siding with a defense that criticizes house managers for not subpoenaing witnesses, let’s take a look at that defense. The argument is if they wanted Bolton, they should have called for Bolton and let the process play out in the courts. On the other hand, their argument in court is, this is a process that should be played out in congress. House manager Schiff was right: “You cant make this stuff up.” This is what your principles have done to the country.
So here’s what we are left with senator. The President of the United States can solicit foreign help in slandering a political opponent, if he thinks his election is for the good of the country. The President of the United States can intimidate witnesses and defy subpoenas, if he believes it’s in the public interest. The President of the United States can free himself of any legal constraints at a whim. Your vote to deny witnesses has effectively made these arguments legal precedence.
I didn’t for a minute believe two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict, but I did hope that there would be enough of you with the integrity to at least go through the motions of a fair trial.
Two of your Republican colleagues were able to muster whatever gumption is left in this party to vote ‘yes’ to witnesses who have not been heard yet. Witnesses with direct knowledge of what happened. Unfortunately, you were not among them.
So thank you Senator Murkowski for showing us what really matters to you. Thank you for showing us that Alaska can’t count itself among the too few states trying to reign in this White House. I hope in your introspection you have given some consideration to your legacy. I’m certain the partisan, authoritarian leadership you have pledged yourself to gave it no consideration at all.