If you don’t think the Democrats’ politicizing of impeachment backfired on them, all you need to do is look at Senator Lisa Murkowski, the moderate Alaska Republican, who infamously voted ‘present’ during the Kavanaugh confirmation vote and was seen as a potential vote in favor of new witnesses in the Trump impeachment trial.
Most of us were probably surprised when Murkowski voted against new witnesses, but Ted Cruz theorized that Murkowski and others were moved to change their votes because of one particular moment during the trial—and Murkowski has confirmed that at least for her, he was spot on, and it doesn’t reflect well on Senator Elizabeth Warren and her presidential aspirations.
“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. 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,” Murkowski said in a statement released Friday. “It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort,” she continued, clearly referencing Warren’s bizarre attack on Chief Justice John Roberts.
During the Senate trial last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren submitted a question to the Chief Justice to be read to the House Managers. “At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?” the question read.
It was an absurd question, and the look on Roberts’ face after reading it was priceless. I wonder what Murkowski’s face looked like at that moment, too. It’s clear now that she was moved by Warren’s stunt, though not in the way that Warren would have liked. “We have already degraded our institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another,” Murkowski said.
Was Murkowski the only Republican on the fence who was moved to oppose new witnesses because of Warren’s ridiculous attack on the Chief Justice. There were several on the fence, at one point enough that Mitch McConnell believed he didn’t have the votes to block it. Elizabeth Warren could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, making on-the-fence Republicans realize that this impeachment has nothing to do with “the rule of law”, or “our democracy” or “the Constitution” or whatever else Democrats have claimed to be their motivation. It’s pure politics. They don’t care about anything else but ousting Trump to regain power. Elizabeth Warren made Murkowski realize this, I’m sure others figured it out because of her as well.
I’m sure that will go over great in the Iowa caucuses.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis