Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Monday expressed an openness to calling witnesses in the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. But she refused to go into detail about how she might act during the trial.
The House of Representatives has approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, first for abusing his power by pressing Ukraine for political dirt, and second for obstructing Congress by, among other things, ordering key witnesses not to testify in the impeachment probe.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, for example, witnessed Trump’s pressure campaign but have not spoken to congressional investigators about it.
“I am open to witnesses,” Collins told Maine Public Radio, asked specifically if those two men should testify.
“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,” she hedged.
Collins also criticized senators of both parties, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for announcing their views on impeachment.
McConnell has advertised that he is working in “total coordination” with the White House on the impeachment trial, while Warren has said sufficient evidence exists to convict Trump and remove him from office.
“I have heard Democrats like Elizabeth Warren saying that the president should be impeached, found guilty and removed from office,” she said. “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 that’s in an impartial way.”
Even the mild critique of McConnell sets Collins apart from most of her peers.
Aside from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who said she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s announcement that he would closely coordinate the impeachment trial with the White House, Republican senators have largely sided with Trump and McConnell when asked about the impeachment trial.