JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, on Friday criticized the Biden administration for filing federal charges against former President Donald Trump.
Dunleavy’s statement was issued before the indictment was unsealed Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice. In an interview later Friday, Sullivan said he stood by his statement, but he hadn’t yet read the indictment.
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a frequent critic of Trump, said Friday that the indictment needed to be taken seriously.
The former president is accused of retaining dozens of sensitive classified documents at his Florida home that risked national security, including information about the country’s nuclear programs and its potential vulnerabilities to military attacks.
“To indict a former sitting President is unprecedented. This is a sad day for our country and Republican form of government. There is no denying President Trump is the most persecuted President in our country’s history,” Dunleavy said on Twitter before the indictment was unsealed. “I am afraid the American people will continue to lose trust in our governmental institutions. This sets a terrible precedent.”
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to follow-up questions Friday afternoon, including whether Dunleavy had read the indictment since posting his tweet or whether the national security implications of the charges against Trump concerned him.
In a prepared statement issued Friday morning, Sullivan blasted the Biden administration for “the unprecedented” indictment brought against Trump, who is the first former president to face federal charges. Sullivan suggested that Trump’s indictment would “do lasting damage to our polarized nation.”
“Equality before the law is a fundamental tenet of our republic. The Biden administration is shoving our country into dangerous territory that is eroding trust in critical institutions of our government,” Sullivan said on social media shortly after the indictment was unsealed.
In a follow-up interview after a U.S. Coast Guard ceremony in Juneau on Friday, Sullivan declined to comment on the contents of the indictment, saying that he hadn’t read it yet. A member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Sullivan said he was sticking with his earlier statement.
“As this unfolds more, I’m sure there’ll be other developments. But there’s some broader implications here that I think are very troubling for the country, like writ large, and relates to what I’m talking about with regard to my statement,” he said.
In a Friday interview, Murkowski — who voted to convict Trump for his actions leading up to his supporters’ storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — did not defend the former president, nor did she join Sullivan and Dunleavy in criticizing the indictment.
Murkowski said there must be a fair and legal process to determine if the former president is guilty of the charges brought against him. But she said from the news reports she read, it appeared the former president knew he had classified information and chose to keep it, serious charges that should not be casually dismissed.
“We have to look very critically at this,” she said. “But it is something that it ought not matter who you are, whether you are a former president, whether you are an intelligence analyst that kept classified documents — these are serious matters that no one can pretend that they have the ability to look the other way.”
Murkowski dismissed claims that the charges brought against Trump showed there was corruption in the FBI, saying there was no evidence for that. She said that prosecutors would not indict a former president lightly.
”It’s not just something that somebody says, ‘Hey, let’s give Trump a bad day.’ That doesn’t happen. So I have to take it seriously,” she said.
Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola initially declined to comment on the indictment, but later issued a prepared statement through a spokesperson that did not address the substance of the charges.
“I am aware of the most recent indictment that has been issued against former President Trump and will entrust the legal system to adjudicate this matter. As a member of the legislative branch, I will continue to focus on advocating for Alaskans in Congress,” she said.
Daily News reporters Riley Rogerson in Washington and Iris Samuels in Anchorage contributed to this report.