Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed frustration Thursday with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over his decision to block a commission to look into the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by hundreds of Donald Trump supporters.
In an extraordinary meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill before an expected vote on the Jan. 6 commission, Murkowski took direct aim at the Kentucky Republican over his stated rationale for opposing the investigatory panel: that he would rather focus his party’s energy on President Joe Biden’s misdeeds to gain fodder for the 2022 midterm elections rather than risk alienating former President Trump and his supporters.
“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” Murkowski said.
She added: “Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear. And one of those is that we have free and fair elections... I kind of want that to endure beyond just one election cycle.”
Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who is credited with leading a mob of rioters away from the Senate doors on Jan. 6, happened to be standing a few feet behind Murkowski as she spoke passionately about the need for an outside investigation.
The Alaska senator, who faces reelection next year, has been one of the most outspoken Republicans about the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump’s culpability in inciting the riot at the Capitol. She was one of only seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump over the disturbing events during his second impeachment trial earlier this year. And she is one of only a handful of GOP votes expected to back an independent Jan. 6 commission.
Republicans broadly oppose establishing the commission, which would be equally divided among credible experts selected by both parties, with equal subpoena power, on the grounds that it would be a partisan expedition.
But Murkowski pushed back on those claims, as well as McConnell’s comments earlier in the day that there is “no new fact about that day we need the Democrats’ extraneous commission” to uncover.
“I need to know. I think it’s important for the country that there be an independent evaluation.... If you want to make this an independent commission, then, Leader, this is your opportunity. Pick the right people,” Murkowski said.
“I guess now we’ll never know,” she added of unresolved questions about the Jan. 6 attack. “Isn’t that part of the problem, that we’ll never know? It’ll never be resolved. It’ll always be hanging out there.”