GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said on Monday that she is “open” to calling witnesses to testify as part of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, breaking with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has argued that “after we’ve heard the arguments, we ought to vote and move on.”
However, Collins stressed that it is still too early to decide who, if anyone, should be called.
In separate interviews with Maine Public Radio and WCSH, the senator said a decision on potential witnesses should wait until after opening arguments from both House impeachment managers and Trump’s team.
“I am open to witnesses. I think it’s premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the Chief Justice to both sides,” Collins told Maine Public Radio when asked about calling acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney or former national security adviser John Bolton.
Collins said she thought Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) should look to the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial as a framework for their negotiations.
The Hill notes: “Collins, one of the 15 senators in the chamber in 1999, said the Clinton agreement was ‘fair’ and ‘thorough.’ During the Clinton trial, senators voted 100-0 on a resolution detailing the rules and process for the proceeding. A second resolution that called for closed-door depositions of three specific witnesses broke down along party lines.”
“We then had a vote on whether or not we needed further information, and we decided to depose three witnesses. So they did not testify in person, but they were deposed by both sides, and that was a valuable way to proceed in that trial,” Collins told WCSH recalling the Clinton process.
Collins said that she’s spoken in the GOP caucus about urging leaders to use the Clinton trial as their framework.
“I have shared with my colleagues my belief that the Clinton approach, the approach to the Clinton trial worked well,” she said.