Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) attempted to clarify her stance on how to vote on President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and claimed her past comments were taken out of context.
“There has been a lot of mischaracterization and misunderstanding about my position on the process the Senate should follow for the impeachment trial,” her statement read. “Rather than have my position relayed through the interpretation of others, I wanted to state it directly.”
Collins, considered a swing-vote in the Senate, said that the forthcoming proceedings should follow the precedent set during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton in 1999.
“That process [from 1999] provided for the opportunity for both sides to state their case and for Senators to ask questions through the Chief Justice,” she wrote in her statement. “At the conclusion of that phase of the 1999 trial, the Senate voted on a motion to subpoena witnesses and admit additional materials after the case had been heard and the questions had been posed,” Collins remarked. “I voted in favor of that motion subpoenaing witnesses.”
She said senators from both parties should be allowed to ask questions during the trial, but she noted that additional information would be helpful in rendering a decision. To elaborate further, she said she hasn’t made any decisions on witnesses who should testify but still stressed that she wants to hear from both the GOP and Democrats about who they would like to call.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have publicly grappled over when to vote on calling up witnesses. Schumer has said he wants several witnesses to testify, including former White House national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
At the same time, some Republicans have expressed a desire to call up witnesses such as former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the center of the impeachment case. During the inquiry, Republicans in the House had sought to obtain testimony from an anonymous CIA staffer who submitted a complaint about a July 25 call President Donald Trump made with Ukraine, accusing the person of holding a bias against the president.
Collins, 67, announced her plans to seek reelection last month, and it would be her fifth term if she is reelected. In 2014, she defeated Democrat Shenna Bellows.
On Thursday, House managers named by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presented the two articles of impeachment against Trump. They allege Trump abused his power by withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens, which Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have both denied. Trump also cited executive privilege in blocking several White House officials from testifying and noted that the future of the presidency would be jeopardized if he allowed it.
Later in the day, Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate President pro tempore, before Roberts initiated a ceremony to name all 100 senators as jurors in the trial. McConnell announced the trial would start in full on Tuesday, Jan. 21.