Sen. Lisa Murkowski (at right) speaks with scientists Dr. Sarah Gravem (left) and Dr. Kristy Kroeker (middle) about their research on sea star wasting disease and urchin barrens at the Sitka Sound Science Center on July 10, 2021. During the press conference that followed, Murkowski was candid about the Senate’s refusal to hold an independent investigation of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, and of former President Donald Trump’s role in the event. (KCAW photo/Berett Wilber)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is not backing away from her position that the Capitol riot on January 6 was a desecration of democracy, and that former President Donald Trump is responsible for inciting it.

Sen. Murkowski was in Sitka on Saturday, July 10, 2021, following an event in Ketchikan on Friday to celebrate the return of large cruise ships to Alaska, under legislation sponsored by her and colleague Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Alaska Congressman Don Young.

Her visit to Sitka was more of a courtesy call, to check in with local leaders on the infrastructure bill making its way through Congress, and to discuss energy issues — but the courtesy ended when the conversation turned to Trump.

Most of Sen. Lisa’s Murkowski’s visit to Sitka was practical: touring the Science Center, meeting with the mayor and the municipal administrator, visiting the Green Lake hydroelectric project, which is due for an upgrade.

There are many moving parts in Washington D.C. right now, with President Biden pushing a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that Republicans would like to pare down to something more in the range of $900 billion.

Sen. Murkowski is the senior Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Even though Alaska is an oil state, she believes the industry can demonstrate leadership in energy efficient production. And she thinks there’s the potential to develop low-carbon transit — right here in Sitka. 

“Transit can be buses, transit can be ferries,” said Murkowski. “And so one of the reasons that I wanted to talk with the folks over at Allen Marine is what’s the potential that we might have for electric ferries? You look at the Scandinavian countries, not necessarily eV’s but, hybrid-type ferry systems are in operation there. Part of our challenge is the range, you have to have batteries that are sufficient. So it’s not easy. But I think we need to be looking to the future. If we’re going to be building out new ferries, let’s make sure that our ferries are going to last us 50 years, right?”

Murkowski has chaired the Energy Committee for six years, and served another six as Ranking Member. She’s gained a fluency with energy issues, like “carbon fee and dividend,” and has a practiced ease discussing Alaska’s role in a world where those will become the dominant issues.

It’s only in talking about the January 6 Capitol riot that Sen. Murkowski  goes off script. To say she remains bothered about the breach of the Capitol and its aftermath is an understatement.

That the Senate has done little to root out and condemn its origins has angered her.

“I’m still very, very disappointed that following the events of January 6, where all of us, every single senator, was in that chamber,” said Murkowski.  “When that Capitol was breached by an angry violent mob, and our Capitol was desecrated when the the effort to stop an election, that was inflamed by the words and the actions of our former president, up to that event and the day of that event, and we were all there. And to have the thought that we should have an independent, bipartisan investigation of that event, and that was rejected by the Senate is still shocking to me.”

Sen. Murkowski was one of six Republican senators to support the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol Riot. But other senate Republicans filibustered the bill, and it fell six votes shy of the 60 needed to break the filibuster. 

She was also one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict President Trump for instigating the riot, at his second impeachment trial. That earned her an official censure from Alaska’s Republican Party. 

Murkowski’s historic win as a write-in candidate in 2010 freed her from the traces of the Republican establishment — and of the former president. Murkowski suggests that there are some willing to forgive and forget, rather than give up political advantage. She, however, is aiming at a higher principle.

“If you don’t know the full facts behind it, because you don’t want to know the truth. That’s a problem for us,” said Murkowski.

Following her weekend visit to Ketchikan and Sitka, Sen. Murkowski returned on Sunday to Washington, where Congress remains in session until its summer recess on August 9.