Murkowski: GOP nominee without Trump’s ‘baggage’ would have clear path to victory

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed frustration Friday over what she called the “distractions” of former President Trump’s legal dramas and declared “a Republican nominee without this baggage would have a clear path to victory.”

“It is a shame that this election has focused on personalities and legal problems rather than a debate about policies that would lift up Americans. These distractions have given the Biden campaign a free pass as the focus has shifted from Biden’s indefensible record and the damage his policies have done to Alaska and our nation’s economy to Trump’s legal drama,” Murkowski said in a statement.

Murkowski broke with some of her usual Senate Republican allies, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), who on Thursday criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for bringing a case against Trump after pledging to prosecute him when he ran for the DA’s office in 2021.

“These charges never should have been brought in the first place. I expect the conviction to be overturned on appeal,” McConnell posted on social platform X.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who fell out with Trump over Trump’s effort to stop the certification of the 2020 election, called the Manhattan jury’s verdict an “outrage.”

Murkowski said Friday the trial and verdict is “the first step in the legal process.”

“The former president has the right to appeal and I fully expect him to exercise that right,” she said, stopping well short of the barrage of attacks that fellow Republicans have aimed at Bragg, Judge Juan Merchan and the Manhattan criminal court.

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is running for Senate in Maryland, was one of the few Republicans to call on fellow Americans to respect the verdict.

“At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders—regardless of party—must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship,” Hogan said Thursday. “We must reaffirm what has made this nation great: the rule of law.”

That prompted a sharp response from former Trump adviser Chris LaCivita, who predicted that Hogan would face a backlash from Trump voters.

“You just ended your campaign,” LaCivita wrote on X above a repost of Hogan’s comments.

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