Speaking with Maine Public, Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Monday that she is “open to witnesses” in an upcoming Senate impeachment trial, but said it is “premature to decide who” might be called.
Collins also blasted Senate Majority Leader McConnell for saying he’d “taking his cues from the White House” and said “There are senators on both sides of the aisle who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging this in an impartial way.”
Collins, who is often considered one of the easier Republicans to swing to the other side because of her constituency, is expected to face a difficult reelection campaign with many of her constituents not being fans of the President.
Collins spoke with Maine Public’s senior political reporter Mal Leary about the impeachment trial.
I think that the model and the precedent established by the trial for President Clinton is one that our leaders should take a hard look at. What happened back then is Sen. Trent Lott on the Republican side, Sen. Tom Daschle on the Democratic side, negotiated the terms to begin the trial. And those terms were adopted unanimously by the Senate, 100-0. I can’t imagine anything like that happening today, regrettably.
They decided that we would start with the opening arguments from both sides. And then we proceeded to a period where senators questioned the two sides through the chief justice. I remember submitting the only bipartisan question with Sen. Russ Feingold at the time. And those questions, of which there were more than 100, elicited a lot of information that was very useful. So I hope we do that approach this time as well.
Then we move to what I call the third stage. At that point, we debated whether or not we wanted to hear from witnesses and get additional documents. And there was a roll call vote, with Republicans wanting witnesses at that point. And Democrats, with few exceptions, not wanting witnesses, so we have a reverse of the current situation. And we decided to call just three witnesses and to have them deposed, rather than testifying live.
Should Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, and John Bolton, be people who should be called to testify, given their first-hand knowledge of this alleged ‘quid pro quo,’ which the president hates, but that’s what it was, on arms for an investigation deal?
I am open to witnesses. I think it’s premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the chief justice to both sides. What I don’t understand is why the House, having issued subpoenas, to Secretary Mike Pompeo for example, did not seek to enforce those subpoenas in court, and instead rush to get the articles of impeachment passed before Christmas, and yet have not transmitted them to us in the Senate. So that seems an odd way to operate.
You have consistently said you want to be careful in what you say about this because you’re in a role of a juror. Given that, you must be sharing the concern of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, that Sen. Mitch McConnell out there saying ‘we’re going to be lockstep with the White House,’ is going to cast some aspersions on this deal, this whole process.
It is inappropriate, in my judgment, for senators on either side of the aisle to prejudge the evidence before they have heard what is presented to us, because each of us will take an oath, an oath that I take very seriously to render impartial justice. That’s what it says, impartial justice. And I have heard Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying that the President should be impeached, found guilty, and removed from office. I’ve heard the Senate majority leader saying that he’s taking his cues from the White House. There are senators on both sides of the aisle who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging this in an impartial way.
This article first appeared on TheConservativeOpinion.com