Impeachment witnesses? Murkowski still isn’t saying.

July 24, 2018 in Washington, DC
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is pursued by reporters in the U.S. Capitol in 2018. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

Two Republicans, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, said Monday it’s more likely that former National Security Advisor John Bolton will be called as a witness in President Trump’s impeachment trial, now that details from his book are emerging. But Sen. Lisa Murkowski still isn’t saying how she’ll vote on witnesses.

Day Seven of the impeachment trial ended with a lecture from former constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz. Murkowski said it felt like she was back in law school.

“It really did,” she said. “And I was taking notes like I was back in con law 101.”

Murkowski, Romney and Collins are among a handful of Republicans who’ve suggested they are open to hearing from witnesses. Murkowski said news reports about Bolton’s book have continued to pique her interest about what he might say, though she believes it’s too soon for her to decide on witnesses.

“I need to wait until the White House managers have finished the presentation of their case before I make a determination,” Murkowski said.

And before that, senators will submit written questions to the lawyers. And before they vote on any particular witness, they’ll vote on whether they need more evidence. Murkowski believes in proceeding step by step.

Some senators exit the Senate chamber and tell reporters the case against the president is iron-clad. Others proclaim it’s a hoax. The most substantial remarks Murkowski has made since the trial began is when twice she said House managers presenting the case offended her.

Congressman Jerry Nadler offended her by alleging that senators who didn’t agree to call witnesses were engaged in a coverup. Murkowski also bristled at Rep. Adam Schiff’s remark on Friday about heads on pikes – that is, he cited a news report warning that senators who vote against the president would face retaliation.

“When statements are made that are over the top, that are out of line, that are unnecessary and that just go to further inflame the tensions and the anxiety and the passions of so many –  we just don’t need to do it,” she said.

Murkowski said, though, that her reactions, her critiques of the presenters, aren’t decisive.

“I may have made a little jot to myself, ‘Yech,’ or, you know, smiley face, whatever,” she said. “But I am looking at this in a way and in a manner that I pledged to myself that I would do, and that I stated to others and gave my oath that I’m going to deliver impartial justice. So I’m trying to look at all of this objectively.”

To extend the law school metaphor, Murkowski might record her emotions in the margins of her notebook, but she said they won’t influence her answers on the final exam.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

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