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Republican senator "disturbed" by McConnell's approach to impeachment trial

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said she was disturbed to hear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say there would be "total coordination" between the White House and Senate over the upcoming presidential impeachment trial.

"And in fairness, when I heard that I was disturbed," Murkowski told Anchorage television station KTUU Tuesday before saying there should be distance between the White House and Senate in how the trial is conducted.

"To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand-in-glove with the defense, and so (when) I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process."

In a recent interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, described his planning with the White House.

"We'll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time (be) in total coordination with the White House counsel's office and the people who are representing the president as well as the Senate," McConnell said.

U.S. Senator Murkowski addresses news conference after competing measures to end the partial U.S. government shutdown fell short on Capitol Hill  in Washington
Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican. Leah Millis / REUTERS

Murkowski also criticized the way Democrats conducted the impeachment process in the House, describing it as rushed. 

Murkowski says the Senate is now being asked to cure deficiencies in evidence to be presented at the trial, particularly when it comes to whether key witnesses should be brought forward to testify, including White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.

"How we will deal with witnesses remains to be seen," Murkowski said before saying the House should have gone to the courts if witnesses refused to appear before Congress.

Murkowski also spoke of her desire for a "full and fair process," potentially using the impeachment hearings of President Clinton as a template.

Murkowski said she remained undecided about how she would vote when the trial takes place. "For me to prejudge and say there's nothing there or on the other hand, he should be impeached yesterday, that's wrong, in my view, that's wrong."

Plans for the Senate trial remain in limbo, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refraining from taking the next steps — appointing House managers and delivering the articles of impeachment to the Senate — until she's assured the Senate trial rules will be "fair." Republicans, meanwhile, have blasted her for dragging out the process, since President Trump's acquittal in the Senate seems all but certain.

Mr. Trump, spending the Christmas holiday at Mar-a-Lago, kept up his Twitter campaign on the topic Thursday morning. He quoted former Bush White House aide and frequent Fox News guest Brad Blakeman, who's urged the Senate to dismiss the charges.

"'Nancy Pelosi has no leverage over the Senate. Mitch McConnell did not nose his way into the impeachment process in the House, and she has no standing in the Senate.' Brad Blakeman," the president wrote, adding another dig at the House Speaker: "Crazy Nancy should clean up her filthy dirty District & help the homeless there. A primary for N?"

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