Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced she has been receiving death threats after she voted to acquit President Donald Trump during the Senate’s impeachment trial.
Three of those death threats, she said, were deemed “credible” and are being investigated, she told a conference on Friday, reported The Associated Press.
“I have such respect for all of you and for our state troopers and our local police. I have always loved our law enforcement and have been so grateful for all that you have done,” Collins told the Maine Chiefs of Police Association winter conference in South Portland, Maine.
She had also received death threats after she voted to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. At the time, she had received a threatening letter at her home in Bangor, Maine, that contained the deadly toxin, ricin. Her husband and their dog, Pepper, were placed under quarantine.
Collins was one of two GOP senators to vote in favor of calling witnesses during the impeachment trial, joining every Democrat in the upper chamber. However, she ultimately voted to acquit President Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, later telling reporters that she believes the president “learned from this case.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was the other Republican to favor witnesses, but he broke ranks with his party and cast a vote to convict the president.
“I’m voting to acquit. Because I do not believe that the behavior alleged reaches the high bar in the Constitution for overturning an election and removing a duly elected president,” Collins told CBS News at the time, adding that she believes Trump’s actions didn’t amount to high crimes or misdemeanors.
But when key impeachment witnesses Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s (NSC) top Ukraine expert, was fired on Friday, Collins characterized herself as someone who is “obviously” against the move. European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced that same day he is being recalled to Washington. Both men had testified in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.
“I think it’s important to understand that when you’re in an impeachment trial, you consider the evidence that is before you,” Collins said in defense of her vote, according to the Portland Press Herald. “You don’t try to make predictions. You consider the evidence that’s before you. In this case, the evidence did not meet the high bar that’s established by the Constitution for immediate removal of the president from office.”
Trump, in confirming Vindman’s dismissal, wrote that his colleagues had questioned Vindman’s judgment.
“Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly, & was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information,” Trump wrote in a statement on Twitter on Saturday. “In other words, ‘OUT,’” he added.
Vindman had testified that “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing” when he listened on Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader. But later, his NSC boss, Tim Morrison, suggested that other officials had considered Vindman unreliable while others expressed concerns that he may have leaked information.
Morrison also told lawmakers during the probe that he heard nothing improper on the Trump call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Both Zelensky and Trump have denied allegations of a quid pro quo that were at the center of the House Democrat-run impeachment inquiry.
David Pressman, an attorney for Vindman, confirmed he was fired and escorted out of the White House on Friday. Later, he decried Trump’s Twitter statement as “false” and said that “Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military.”