Murkowski ‘Disturbed’ by McConnell’s Senate Impeachment Strategy

Moderate GOP senator criticizes majority leader’s efforts as improperly ‘being hand-in-glove with the defense’

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she is disturbed by the Senate majority leader’s promise of “total coordination” with the White House on impeachment proceedings against President Trump, marking a note of GOP dissension as party leaders prepare for the president’s impeachment trial.

Ms. Murkowski, a moderate, told Anchorage’s NBC affiliate KTUU on Tuesday that she opposed “being hand-in-glove with the defense” and expressed other concerns about the process. Her remarks came as the Senate attempts to set rules for the trial over two articles of impeachment passed by the House related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

The comments mark a rare instance of dissent in a party that has been largely unified behind the president and the first sign of potential disharmony among Senate Republicans. Even a handful of GOP senators opposing procedures could force Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, to change his strategy on impeachment, given the party’s thin majority of 53 seats in the chamber.

Ms. Murkowski has previously spoken out against Republican leadership, opposing the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. She voted against the Senate’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act a year earlier. But her objections in the past haven’t significantly reoriented GOP policies, and it isn’t known whether any other moderates would consider following her lead this time.

Entering the year-end holidays, Congress was at an impasse over the next steps of the impeachment process. The two sides have yet to come to terms, and there was little sign of a resolution emerging during the holiday break. Congress will reconvene on Jan. 7.

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