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

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRomney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police 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 TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' 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 ScottPublic unites, Congress gridlocks — there's a better way Trump sealed his own fate Senators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents 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 GrahamGraham challenger Harrison raises record-shattering .9 million for SC Senate bid Trump renews culture war, putting GOP on edge Bubba Wallace responds to Trump: 'Even when it's HATE from the POTUS.. Love wins' 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 RomneyRomney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention Trump administration narrows suspects in Russia bounties leak investigation: report Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide MORE (R-Utah).

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRomney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention Grassley won't attend GOP convention amid coronavirus uptick Trump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP MORE (R-Wis.) also told reporters that he "didn't really see it."

Other GOP senators also defended the decision.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Congress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help 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.