Politics

Sen. Murkowski says she’s focused on Alaska issues, not on presidential race

Lisa Murkowski legislative address

JUNEAU — President Donald Trump has had policies that are good for the country and have helped Alaska, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday, but she did not say if she would support his reelection bid.

Murkowski, a Republican, told reporters in Juneau that she planned to focus on issues important to the state, not on “what’s coming up in November.”

In 2016, Murkowski said Trump had “forfeited the right to be our party’s nominee” after a 2005 video surfaced of him making lewd comments about women.

Since his election, the two have been on the same side of a number of issues, such as opening a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, but Murkowski said she hasn't hesitated to call him out when she thinks he's wrong or has said something she considers "over the top."

In her first conversation with Trump after his election, she said she expressed a desire to find ways to work together. She said she told him, "You want to do good things for the country, well, I want to do good things for the state of Alaska, so let's figure out how we're going to make that happen."

During Trump’s recent Senate impeachment trial, Murkowski, who is viewed as a moderate, was closely watched. She called Trump’s behavior in his dealings with Ukraine “shameful” but said the impeachment investigation suffered from what she saw as a rushed process in the House and partisanship in the Senate. She said she could not vote to convict.

Speaking to Alaska lawmakers Tuesday, Murkowski said she was worn down after "perhaps the darkest, most deeply partisan experience of my career."

She expressed concern with overreach by the executive branch but said it's a recurring issue and not just a criticism of Trump's administration.

She also said Congress must assert itself as a co-equal branch of government.

Becky Bohrer, Associated Press

Becky Bohrer is a reporter for the Associated Press based in Juneau.

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