Sen. Dan Sullivan, unlike his colleague Sen. Lisa Murkowski, voted with the majority of Senate Republicans to acquit former President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial. He issued the following statement after casting his vote on Feb. 13.
I cast my vote today to acquit former President Trump on the single article of impeachment as a result of an extensive review of the Constitution, historical precedent, and, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story said two centuries ago, “a deep responsibility to future times” — just as I did during last year’s impeachment trial and the Electoral College certification in January.
The constitutional purpose of impeachment is to remove an official from office — and, in this case, that purpose had already been achieved. With their votes this past election, the American people spoke and chose a new President. Thus, pursuing impeachment in this case creates a troubling, unconstitutional precedent in which former officials — private citizens — can face impeachment and conviction. As I said during last year’s impeachment, the American people are well equipped to decide whether or not the former president should be disqualified from holding future office.
I strongly believe the Senate does not have jurisdiction to try a former president who is now a private citizen. The Senate claiming that jurisdiction contradicts the intent of the Framers to the detriment of our constitutional order. Additionally, the House Managers provided the former president with no due process — and argued none was required — and side-stepped the First Amendment defense of his speech.
Ultimately, in spite of an emotional and wrenching presentation, the House managers failed to account for the repercussions of these new precedents and the way in which they went about this rushed, “snap” impeachment. Combined with the power to try private citizens, all of this constitutes a massive expansion of Congress’ impeachment powers never contemplated by our Founders. The temptation to use such power as a regular tool of partisan warfare in the future will be great and has the potential to incapacitate our government.
Make no mistake: I condemn the horrific violence that engulfed the Capitol on January 6. I also condemn former President Trump’s poor judgment in calling a rally on that day, and his actions and inactions when it turned into a riot. His blatant disregard for his own Vice President Mike Pence who was fulfilling his constitutional duty at the Capitol, infuriates me. I will never forget the brave men and women of law enforcement — some of whom lost their lives and were seriously injured — who carried out their patriotic duty to protect members of Congress that day.
However horrible the violence was — and how angry I have been about it — I believe that it was imperative, for the future of our country and our democracy, to be as dispassionate and impartial about this vote as possible.
The vast majority of Alaskans who supported President Trump were also appalled by the violence on January 6. They supported the former president because of his policies that helped our state. I will continue to work to make sure that their voices are not silenced and that this dispiriting chapter in American history won’t deter them from speaking out in defense of their beliefs.
At the end of the day, my obligation is to rise above the passions of the moment and to carefully consider the decisions we make today and the ramifications they will have for our country’s future. I believe that my vote to acquit fulfills that obligation. I want Alaskans to know that throughout all of this, my guiding light has been both fidelity to my constituents and to our Constitution.