Second Republican Senator, Susan Collins, Criticizes Mitch McConnell for Impeachment Bias, Says She's Open to Calling Witnesses

Maine Senator Susan Collins became the second Republican to criticize Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week for his pre-impeachment trial comments about being in "total coordination" with President Donald Trump.

Collins, speaking with Maine Public Radio in a segment broadcast Monday evening, said it was "inappropriate" for McConnell — and Democratic lawmakers — to "prejudge" the impending Senate impeachment trial. Collins said the level of agreement between Republicans and Democrats in deciding how proceedings should work during former President Bill Clinton's impeachment is likely impossible today. Collins demanded "impartial justice" in the Senate trial and criticized McConnell for "saying that he's taking cues from the White House." Collins agreed with Democrats that witnesses and documents should be allowed for introduction at the Senate trial.

The moderate Maine Republican's comments came just one week after Alaska GOP senator Lisa Murkowski was similarly critical of McConnell's vow to be in "lockstep" with Trump's wishes.

"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," Collins said Monday, adding that Democrats shouldn't be jumping to the opposite conclusion before the trial is held.

Collins' office did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment Tuesday morning.

"And I have heard Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, saying that the president should be impeached, found guilty, and removed from office," Collins continued. "I've heard the Senate Majority leaders 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."

McConnell's comments earlier this month about being in "total coordination" with the White House have been widely condemned by Democrats, left-leaning pundits and now at least two Republican senators. But his commentary was greeted warmly by fellow top Senator Lindsey Graham, who earlier this month vowed to kill impeachment as soon as it reached the Senate. "I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here," Graham said at the time.

Unlike many House Republicans who have dismissed the need for any documents or new evidence to be presented at trial, Collins said she is "open to witnesses." But she said it is baffling why the House did not enforce subpoenas issued to people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and instead rushed to get the articles of impeachment passed before Christmas.

Collins repeatedly stated that Trump's impeachment proceedings should mimic the bipartisan approach taken against Clinton in the late 1990s

"I have made that recommendation. I have spoken in our caucus, but since I'm one of the few members of the caucus who participated in the 1999 trial, I went back and gathered all the documents," Collins said. "And I have shared with my colleagues my belief that the Clinton approach, the approach to the Clinton trial worked well."

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Maine Senator Susan Collins is the second Republican to criticize Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his pre-impeachment trial comments about being in "total coordination" with President Donald Trump. SAUL LOEB /Contributor/GETTY IMAGES
Second Republican Senator, Susan Collins, Criticizes Mitch McConnell for Impeachment Bias, Says She's Open to Calling Witnesses | Politics