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Murkowski: Treatment of White House protesters 'not the America I know'

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right Whoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' MORE (R-Alaska) appeared to break with the decision to use tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters at the White House on Monday night.

Asked if the treatment of protesters was appropriate and if it was an abuse of power, Murkowski said, “I did not think that what we saw last night was the America I know."

Protesters were forcefully moved away from Lafayette Square on Monday night with the use of tear gas and rubber bullets after law enforcement was ordered to clear the area so President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE could cross the street to walk to St. John’s Church, which had been set on fire by vandals the night before.

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The tactics have sparked fierce backlash from Democrats, who have called the move an "abuse of power" and one that could have potentially been illegal.

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (R-S.C.) told Politico that law enforcement should not have used tear gas to clear peaceful protesters.

“But obviously, if your question is, should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo-op, the answer is no,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSpokesperson says Tennessee Democrat made 'poor analogy' in saying South Carolina voters have extra chromosome Former Graham challenger Jaime Harrison launches political action committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE (R-S.C.) didn't directly criticize Trump but told reporters, "I don’t know what the purpose of the trip was."

"I mean, to show appreciation for the church? I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him what he was trying to accomplish. I do know that last night was a bad night and we need less bad nights," he said.

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But Senate Republicans have largely refrained from criticizing the president, with several saying they didn't see footage of the protests.

“I didn’t watch that closely enough to know what happened there," said Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden teams to meet with Trump administration agencies Paul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism MORE (R-Utah).

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Wis.) also told reporters that he "didn't really see it."

Other GOP senators also defended the decision.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio signals opposition to Biden Cabinet picks Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results MORE (R-Fla.) contested that the crowd was cleared so that Trump could cross the street, telling reporters "that's not accurate."

"The bottom line is that there was a curfew at 7 p.m. ... It was 6:45. ... You disobey police orders that you have an unlawful congregation of people. They know the police have to move forward on them, that will trigger the use of tear gas, and it plays right into the imagery that they want," Rubio added.