“I cannot vote to convict,” Murkowski told a mostly-empty Senate chamber. “The Constitution provides for impeachment but does not demand it in all instances.” However, the senator leveled harsh criticism at the President for his actions in Ukraine.
“The president’s behavior was shameful and wrong. His personal interests do not take precedent over those of this great nation,” Murkowski said. The senator also criticized the impeachment process as politicized.
“The House failed in its responsibilities and the Senate — the Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,” she said. “So many in this chamber share my sadness for the present state of our institutions. It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here.”
Murkowski also lambasted what she termed “a careless media” that “cheerfully tried to put out the fires with gasoline” in its impeachment coverage.
The senator was considered a possible swing vote to convict Trump or at least to call witnesses to testify in the trial. However, Murkowski voted on Friday against summoning witnesses following the announcement of colleague Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), another possible swing vote.
Democrats would need 20 Republican votes in the Senate to convict the president. While it was unlikely that 20 Republicans would defect to the Democratic side, the support of the moderate Murkowski all but guarantees the final Senate vote will acquit Trump of both articles of impeachment on a purely partisan basis.