A key swing-vote Republican senator told reporters she was offended by a claim levied by one of the House impeachment managers that Republicans are engaging in a “cover-up” during the trial against President Donald Trump, and questioned why Democrats didn’t go to the courts to obtain more evidence.
“I took it as very offensive,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told local media on Jan. 22. “As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended.”
Along with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), Murkowski has widely been seen as a potential swing-vote in the Senate trial after she bucked the Republican party line to vote against confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018.
However, it appears House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) speech during the trial struck a nerve when he accused Republican senators of “voting for a cover-up, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote.”
In another interview, Murkowski told CNN on Jan. 23 she had concerns about why the House didn’t try to seek witnesses or documents in their case by seeking a remedy in the courts.
“The House made a decision that they didn’t want to slow things down by having to go through the courts. And yet now they’re basically saying, “You guys gotta go through the courts. We didn’t, but we need you to,’” Murkowski said.
House Democrats have said they wanted to move forward with their articles of impeachment without waiting for court orders to be handed down because the process could be too long. Trump and the White House have said he has executive privilege and doesn’t need to adhere to every subpoena issued by the House.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) echoed Murkowski’s comments about Nadler’s accusation, suggesting it was without precedent.
“I mean, that’s an extraordinary thing to say on the floor of the United States Senate, the middle of the trial, and that’s what drew the rebuke, and rightly so,” Hawley told reporters, referring to Chief Justice John Roberts admonishing House managers and the president’s counsel, according to Fox News.
“I can tell you, there was an open, open gasping on the Senate floor when Nadler was saying these things. I mean, it’s really, really extraordinary.”
“If the goal was to persuade, they took a huge step backward last night.”
Two hours before the Jan. 23 trial proceedings began, Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reiterated the need for witnesses and documents related to the impeachment case against Trump.
“I think the case for witnesses and documents is so self-evident that many of my Republican colleagues are desperate to talk about anything else, they are so eager to change [the] conversation,” Schumer told reporters. He has sought to obtain testimony from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and others.