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Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has become the first Republican senator to call on President Trump to resign in the wake of the deadly insurrection this week at the U.S. Capitol, according to two separate, blistering interviews with publications from her home state, the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media.
Murkowski joins a chorus of Democrats who have said Trump should step down, less than two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
“I allowed myself to refrain from speaking my truth,” Murkowski told Alaska Public Media. “And I can’t just be quiet right now.”
Murkowski is one of a number of lawmakers who have found themselves at odds with Trump during his term in office, but her rebuke of his role in instigating a violent mob to overtake the Capitol is the strongest yet from a sitting Republican senator.
“People who were there to riot and who were encouraged that very morning by their president,” she told the public media station. “Yes, I think he was responsible.”
In an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, she was even more blunt.
“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the newspaper.
“I think he should leave, ” she continued. “He said he’s not going to show up. He’s not going to appear at the inauguration. He hasn’t been focused on what is going on with COVID. He’s either been golfing or he’s been inside the Oval Office fuming and throwing every single person who has been loyal and faithful to him under the bus, starting with the vice president. He doesn’t want to stay there. He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego. He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing a good thing.”
Murkowski’s comments come just two days after violent, pro-Trump insurrectionists overtook the U.S. Capitol with the apparent goal of halting Congress’ certification of Biden’s White House victory.
Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of the ensuing bedlam.
Trump had earlier in the day addressed the mob from near the White House and encouraged them to walk to the Capitol during Congress’ certification process.
“You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” he said to the crowd, many of whom carried Trump, Nazi and Confederate flags.
As rioters scaled the Capitol building, smashed windows and infiltrated congressional offices, forcing lawmakers to evacuate to safety, Trump issued a video message to his supporters asking for them to leave the building. In the video, posted to and eventually removed from Twitter, he called the rioters “very special people” and told them he loved them.
On Thursday evening, he condemned the violence but did not acknowledge his role in it.
“I will attribute it to the president, who said, even after his vice president told him that morning, ‘I do not have the constitutional authority to do what you have asked me to do. I cannot do it. I have to protect and uphold the Constitution.’ Even after the vice president told President Trump that, he still told his supporters to fight,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News.
“How are they supposed to take that? It’s an order from the president. And so that’s what they did. They came up and they fought and people were harmed, and injured and died,” she said.
Murkowski said she has begun to question her place within the Republican Party, and her allegiance to it will depend on how the party is able to move forward after Trump leaves office.
“If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.”
As to why she did not think the president would be removed if he did not resign willingly, Murkowski told Alaska Public Media she did not think there was enough time to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows for the vice president to step in in the event that the president is deemed unfit for his duties, nor to carry through with impeachment proceedings.