When Senator Susan Collins called for witnesses in 1999, she slammed the White House defense’s argument that “by allowing witnesses, the trial could go on for months.” Here’s what she had to say then:
“One of Clinton’s lawyers, David Kendall, warned that by allowing witnesses, the trial could go on for months. Kendall’s warning didn’t go over very well with Collins or several other Republicans. ‘I think that’s a threat and I think it’s amazing for Mr. Kendall to threaten the United States Senate,’ Collins said in an interview in the Capitol.” [Portland Press Herald, 1/28/99]
Now, President Trump’s defense team is making the exact same argument as they seek to bar witnesses from testifying in the impeachment trial. The only difference is that this time, Senator Collins is silent. So what’s changed?
In 1999, Senator Collins set a clear standard for ensuring a fair trial when she said firmly, “I need witnesses and further evidence,” pledged that “We are committed to doing everything we can to review the facts…” and accused the president’s lawyers of “threaten[ing[ the United States Senate” when they argued against hearing from witnesses. Today, she’s refusing to meet that standard. She voted with Mitch McConnell 10 times against allowing key witnesses and evidence, and as the defense revives an argument against allowing witnesses that she once denounced, she “still won’t definitively commit” to allowing witnesses — turning her back on the “overwhelming majority of Mainers” who want to see a fair trial.
“Throughout this trial, Senator Collins has put political expediency ahead of her duty to Mainers and her responsibility to serve as an impartial juror,” said DSCC spokesperson Helen Kalla. “It’s been a long time since Mainers could count on Senator Collins to put them first, but her refusal to speak out against the same argument she once denounced as a ‘threat’ to the U.S. Senate is stunningly disingenuous.”
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