Alaska Gov. Dunleavy, Sen. Sullivan say Trump conviction was politically motivated

portraits of three men
From left to right: U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, Former President Donald Trump, Gov. Mike Dunleavy. (Alaska Public Media and Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool)

Some senior Alaska Republicans are crying foul after former President Donald Trump was convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records linked to a hush money payment to an adult film star, a scheme that prosecutors said was an attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

A New York jury handed down the historic verdict Thursday afternoon. It’s the first time a sitting or former U.S. president has been convicted of a crime.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, said it was “a terrible day for the United States of America.”

“The majority of people following these cases believe they are politically motivated to harm President Trump’s chances at winning in November,” Dunleavy said. “We need to have faith in the higher courts that they will overturn this decision — allowing the people of this great country to decide who the next president is in November and not the courts.”

Dunleavy has consistently backed Trump, even in Trump’s challenge of his 2020 election loss.

Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said the conviction months ahead of the November election “sets a dangerous precedent and pushes our great nation even further into banana republic territory.”

“This case, brought by a far-left, partisan local prosecutor who campaigned on getting Trump, exemplifies the old Soviet adage: Show me the man, I’ll show you the crime,” Sullivan said. “President Trump should be exonerated on appeal. The 2024 presidential election should be decided at the ballot box, not by this unprecedented political prosecution. I trust that the American people will see through this gross abuse of our justice system.”

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued a statement acknowledging the verdict Friday afternoon. She’s one of the only prominent Republicans to openly criticize Trump regularly, and she said Friday that Trump’s legal woes hurt Republicans’ chances of beating President Joe Biden in November.

“It is a shame that this election has focused on personalities and legal problems rather than a debate about policies that would lift up Americans,” she said. “These distractions have given the Biden campaign a free pass as the focus has shifted from Biden’s indefensible record and the damage his policies have done to Alaska and our nation’s economy, to Trump’s legal drama. A Republican nominee without this baggage would have a clear path to victory.”

Murkowski has called both Trump and Biden “deeply flawed candidates.”

Congresswoman Mary Peltola, a Democrat, declined to comment through a spokesperson.

This story has been updated to include comments from Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

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Eric Stone covers state government, tracking the Alaska Legislature, state policy and its impact on all Alaskans. Reach him at estone@alaskapublic.org.

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