The Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins 1 p.m. Tuesday, EST. Some immediate partisan wrangling will be over a procedural resolution on basic process, Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Alaska reporters Saturday.
Murkowski said she doesn’t yet know how the resolution will read but she will push for an option to call additional witnesses or to seek documents if the initial proposal, which is being written by Senate Republican leaders, do not provide that.
The President is charged with abuse of his powers by withholding military aid to Ukraine, which had been approved by Congress, as part of an effort to gain political advantage over a potential opponent, former bice president Joe Biden. Trump used the withholding of aid as leverage over Ukraine’s leaders to get them to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter, who was doing business in Ukraine.
Murkoswki said that initially senate Democrats may urge an amendment to seek testimony from certain individuals like former Secretary of State John Bolton. The Alaska senator said she would vote against that, preferring to leave questions of who to call for later after the House has presented its arguments for impeachment and the President has had a chance to respond.
Following that exchange there would be a period of questions being asked by senators. After that, a vote should be called on whether additional witnesses or information is needed, Murkowski said. At least the senator hopes the process will play out that way.
“I won’t support an effort to ‘shoehorn’ specific witnesses into the procedural resolution,” she told reporters. However, she does support a vote on asking for additional testimony or information at end of the first phase of the trial, if that is felt to be needed at the time, she said. Procedural votes like this will require 51 senators in a senate that is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
Murkowkski is considered a swing vote in the impeachment process in that she may break with other Senate Republicans on certain votes. She is remaining neutral at this point in view of the seriousness and gravity of the proceeding. “I want to be clear that I’m not coming into this with preconceived notion,” about the president’s guilt or innocence,” she said.
Murkowski said the impeachment will be a new process for her because she was not in the senate during the last impeachment, which was of President Clinton. But it will be a very formal proceeding, with no debate or even discussion allowed during the House presentation of the articles of impeachment or the President’ rebuttal.
“We will be required to remain in our seats. There will be no cell phones allowed and no breaks for phone calls. Written questions will be forwarded to the Chief Justice, who will be presiding, at the appropriate times, and he will decide if they are appropriate and not duplicative,” of other questions, Murkowski said.
All of this will be televised, she said. There will be opportunities for a recess for ‘deliberations’ and some debate, which will likely be closed, but these are likely to be few in number, she told reporters.
More debate, likely to be highly partisan, will come later in the process when the final votes on the impeachment are taken.