Murkowski becomes first GOP senator to call on Trump to resign

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said Friday that she believes President Trump should resign immediately, becoming the first Senate Republican to call for him to step down after riots at the Capitol.

“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News.

Murkowski’s comments come two days after rioters breached the Capitol as Vice President Pence and lawmakers were counting the Electoral College vote.

Trump, who has since said he will support an orderly transfer of power, has issued unsupported claims for weeks that the election was “rigged” and encouraged his supporters to gather at the Capitol on Wednesday ahead of the violence.

Murkowski also appeared to acknowledge that Trump is unlikely to resign, even as House Democrats appear poised to impeach him for a second time and there are growing calls for Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.

“I think he should leave. He said he’s not going to show up. He’s not going to appear … at the inauguration. He hasn’t been focused on what is going on with COVID. He’s either been golfing or he’s been inside the Oval Office fuming and throwing every single person who has been loyal and faithful to him under the bus, starting with the vice president,” Murkowski said.

“He doesn’t want to stay there. He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego. He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing a good thing,” she added.

Murkowski is the only Senate Republican who has said they believe Trump should resign over the riots, though Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) signaled that he was open to considering impeachment if articles are passed in the House. 
But other GOP senators, while not defending Trump’s actions, have suggested they are eager to move on and have dismissed calls for Trump to impeached with less than two weeks left in his presidential term. Spokespeople for Murkowksi didn’t immediately respond to a question about if she would support impeachment to remove Trump from office. 
Murkowski’s comments mark the latest break between congressional Republicans and Trump, who is facing growing backlash after Wednesday’s riots.

In addition to broader calls by public officials for him to step down days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, several administration officials including two members of his Cabinet have resigned in protest. 
Murkowski, in her interview with the Anchorage Daily News, blamed Trump’s claims about the election for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol and breached both the House and Senate chambers. 

Shortly before chaos broke out on Capitol Hill, the president urged his supporters to walk to the Capitol to stop Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results. And in a since deleted tweet, Trump repeated conspiracy theories related to his election loss, seemingly believed despite the lack of evidence by those ransacking the Capitol, even as police sought to get the complex under control.

“He still told his supporters to fight. How are they supposed to take that? It’s an order from the president. And so that’s what they did. They came up and they fought and people were harmed, and injured and died,” Murkowski said.

In addition to urging his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, Trump has falsely claimed for weeks that the election was “rigged” even while his legal team lost dozens of court challenges and election experts dismissed allegations of widespread voter fraud. 

Murkowski’s remarks are a stinging public rebuke to a president of her own party and mark the strongest public pushback from Senate Republicans, who have by and large not pushed back strongly against Trump since he assumed office in 2017. 
Murkowski has been one the GOP senators most willing to criticize the president at times. She was the only GOP senator who opposed Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and acknowledged last year that she was “struggling” with if she could support Trump in November — remarks that earned her a primary threat from Trump in 2022, when she’s up for reelection. 

Other Senate Republicans brushed off Trump’s rhetoric noting that Murkowski once lost the GOP primary only to win the Alaska Senate race through a write-in campaign. 
Murkowski, during Friday’s interview, didn’t rule out eventually leaving the party, but indicated it depends on where Republicans go moving forward. 
“I will tell you, if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,” she said.

—Updated at 7:06 p.m.

Tags Ben Sasse Brett Kavanaugh Capitol breach Donald Trump Joe Biden Lisa Murkowski

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