Sen. Susan Collins of Maine became the second Republican senator to criticize Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying that he was in “total coordination” with the White House on the impeachment trial. Speaking with Maine Public Radio, Collins said that senators on both sides of the aisle were espousing “inappropriate” behavior and she specifically named McConnell and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“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 the 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. “And I have heard Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, saying that the President should be impeached, found guilty, and removed from office. 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.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s comments on how he was coordinating strategy with the White House. “When I heard that, I was disturbed,” Murkowski told KTUU last week. “We have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process.”
Collins also said that she is “open” to calling witnesses in the trial, although she said it would be “premature to decide who should be called” until the evidence is presented. Democrats have stepped up their call for witnesses after a New York Times report detailing how Trump’s order to put a hold on Ukraine aid was handled within the White House. “Simply put: In our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game-changer,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference on Monday. McConnell has said the trial should not include witnesses.