Lisa Murkowski, fed up with Trump, does not rule out leaving the Republican Party

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Senator Lisa Murkowski speaks during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing in Washington, DC, in September 2023.

Hear more about Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s plans on “Inside Politics Sunday with Manu Raju” at 8 a.m. ET and 11 a.m. ET.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, horrified by Donald Trump’s candidacy and the direction of his party, does not rule out leaving the Republican Party.

The veteran Alaska Republican, one of Seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump In his second impeachment trial after January 6, 2021, he broke up with the former president and said that “absolutely” he would vote for him.

“I wish that, as Republicans, we had… a candidate that I could support,” Murkowski told CNN. “I certainly can’t support Donald Trump.”

The party’s shift toward Trump has Murkowski considering her future within the Republican Party. In the interview, she did not say whether she would remain a Republican.

When asked if he would become independent, Murkowski said, “Oh, I think I’m very independent-minded.” And he added: “I’m just sorry that our party is apparently becoming a Donald Trump party.”

Asked if that meant he could become an independent, Murkowski said: “I’m going through some very interesting political times. Let’s leave it that way”.

Murkowski has not always been on the sidelines within her party. Appointed in 2002 by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski, the senator’s politics were in line with those of the president at the time – George W. Bush – as she maintained a close relationship with her state’s highest-ranking Republican senator, Ted Stevens, who helped build Alaska through federal dollars he funneled back home.

She later found herself at odds with Senator John McCain’s running mate, then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who had been highly critical of her father. When the Tea Party emerged in 2010, Murkowski was at strong odds with the insurgent right of his party. She lost a primary in 2010 to Republican Joe Miller, only to later retain her seat after becoming the second candidate to win a write-in campaign for Senate in the general election.

Murkowski won re-election in her next two elections, even after voting to convict Trump in 2021, voting against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court in 2018, and supporting Ketanji Brown Jackson in 2022. Trump and his allies had attacked her in 2022, but backed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and his high-spending outside group.

In the 2024 cycle, Murkowski — along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — offered a late endorsement to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley just days before she dropped out of the race.

Now, Murkowski is clear that she is ready to leave Trump behind. When she was asked about Trump’s recent comments that Jews who vote Democratic must “hate” his religionMurkowski said it was an “incredibly wrong and terrible statement.”

And Murkowski responded when asked last week about Trump’s other controversial rhetoric, namely that he sees the January 6 prisoners as “hostages” and “patriots” who should be forgiven.

“I don’t think it can be defended,” Murkowski said. “What happened on January 6 was… an effort by people who broke into the building in an effort to stop the electoral certification of an election. “It cannot be defended.”

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