Published: 05:51 GMT, 9 January 2021 | Updated: 16:37 GMT, 9 January 2021
The first Republican senator to call on Donald Trump to resign after his incitement of Wednesday’s chaos has confirmed she is considering leaving the party, in a move which would give the Democrats a majority in the Senate.
On Friday she told her local newspaper, Anchorage Daily News, that she was considering abandoning her party entirely after Trump, her party leader, whipped up his supporters into a violent frenzy and directed them to the Capitol, in an uprising which left four rioters and a police officer dead.
‘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.
Only three senators have changed party while in office in the 21st century, according to the Senate’s data.
At present the Senate is 50:50 Republicans and Democrats, with Kamala Harris, as vice president, casting the deciding vote.
Murkowski said she would not join the Democrat majority, but her resignation from the party and serving as an independent would make it far harder for the Republicans to block Joe Biden’s agenda.
Murkowski, 63, said she speaks regularly to Joe Manchin, the Democrat senator for West Virginia, who is the most conservative Democrat in the Senate and will be a key vote on many Senate actions.
‘We’ve talked a lot. In fact, my 3 o’clock call is with Joe and with a bipartisan group of colleagues that are really concerned about where we are, and how we move forward,’ she said.
‘I think I am including myself as part of a group of members that wants to work to try to bring things together in the Senate and wants to try to get some business done.
‘And this is going to be a (Biden) administration where I’m going to be disagreeing with where they’re taking us on a lot of issues and policy, but I would like to think that we’re never going to question their fidelity to the oath of office.’
The mob overran the Capitol Police shortly after Trump urged them to ‘fight’ on his behalf
‘I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,’ she said.
Earlier on Friday he confirmed that he would become the first president since 1869 not to attend the inauguration of his successor.
‘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,’ she said.
Murkowski urged Trump to resign, but admitted he was not ‘capable of doing a good thing’
‘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.’
Murkowski said that while ‘there may have been many, many, many, many good Americans who came to Washington, D.C., because they felt strongly in support of this president,’ Trump incited them to storm the Capitol.
‘I will attribute it to the president, who said, even after his vice president told him that morning, ‘I do not have the constitutional authority to do what you have asked me to do. I cannot do it. I have to protect and uphold the Constitution.’
‘Even after the vice president told President Trump that, 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 a second interview, that she was partially to blame for not having stopped Trump sooner.
‘I allowed myself to refrain from speaking my truth,’ Murkowski told Alaska Public Media. ‘And I can’t just be quiet right now.’
Murkowski is just one of the Republicans who have distanced themselves from Trump following the Capitol riot, leaving the president increasingly isolated.
‘At this point, I won’t defend him anymore,’ said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary for George W. Bush and a GOP strategist who voted for Trump. ‘I won’t defend him for stirring the pot that incited the mob. He’s on his own.’
Leading Republican pollster Frank Luntz has had extensive conversations with grassroots voters and Republican officials about Trump’s standing since the siege.
‘The professionals are running away from a sinking ship, but his own supporters have not abandoned him, and they actually want him to fight on,’ Luntz said. ‘He’s become the voice of God for tens of millions of people, and they will follow him to the ends of the earth and off the cliff.’
And because of the voters’ continued loyalty, elected officials in deep red areas must remain loyal to the outgoing president as well, even if his own Cabinet does not. In the hours after this week’s riot, 147 Republicans in Congress still voted to reject Biden’s victory, including eight senators.
Sens. Josh Hawley, of Missouri, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, embraced Trump’s calls to reject Biden’s victory before and after the mob attack. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton resisted Trump’s wishes, drawing an angry tweet from the president earlier in the week.
Such attacks didn’t carry as much weight at the end of the week as they once did given Trump’s weakened political state. On Thursday, Cotton chastised Republican colleagues like Hawley and Cruz, who had given voters ‘false hope’ that Trump’s November loss could be overturned.
Nikki Haley, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, tried to toe the line as she condemned Trump’s actions this week during a closed-door meeting with the Republican National Committee.
She lauded some of Trump’s accomplishments but predicted that, ‘His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.’
Meanwhile, there is no clear path for the Republican Party without Trump. Speaking to reporters on Friday, even Biden raised concerns about the health of the GOP.
‘We need a Republican Party,’ Biden said, noting that he spoke with Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, a leading Trump critic. ‘We need an opposition that’s principled and strong.’
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News – Murkowski might leave the GOP and give the Democrats a Senate majority