Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) affirmed in a statement on Thursday that she is open to witnesses in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial but added that she has “not made a decision on any particular witnesses” yet.
Collins released a statement amid the GOP’s ongoing debate over the prospect of the Senate subpoenaing witnesses in the impeachment trial. While Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ultimately won the first battle, resulting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) transmitting the articles over to the upper chamber without the promise of pre-trial witnesses, the debate is far from over.
The Maine lawmaker on Thursday released a statement to clarify her position, reiterating her commitment to seeing a trial move forward in the same manner as former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
“That process provided for the opportunity for both sides to state their case and for Senators to ask questions through the Chief Justice,” Collins wrote, noting that she favored the upper chamber’s motion to subpoena witnesses in Clinton’s trial.
“For this trial, as was done in 1999, both sides should have the opportunity to state their case and the Senators should have the opportunity to pose questions,” she wrote. “Then, the Senate should have an up-or-down-vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents.”
While Collins said she needs to hear the cases argued beforehand, she said it is “likely” that she will support a motion to call witnesses, just as she did during Clinton’s trial.
While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999.
Collins maintained that she will not consider supporting a subpoena or additional documents prior to hearing the statements and added that she has “not made a decision on any particular witnesses.”
“When we reach the appropriate point in the trial, I would like to hear from both sides about which witnesses, if any, they would like to call,” she added.
Her statement coincides with a recent warning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who threatened to force a vote on subpoenaing Hunter Biden and the so-called “whistleblower” in the event that his colleagues side with Democrats.
“If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is,” Paul said, according to Politico.
“If you don’t want to vote and you think you’re going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period,” he continued.
“If they insist on having people like Bolton coming forward, my insistence will be not just one witness. But that the president should be able to call any witnesses that he deems necessary to his defense,” he added.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has articulated a similar stance.
“If additional witnesses are called, at a minimum we should respect the principle of reciprocity,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner.
“So, if the prosecution is allowed one witness, the White House ought to be allowed at least one witness. If the prosecution is allowed two witnesses, the White House ought to be allowed two witnesses,” he added.
Collins, who has reportedly been working with a “fairly small group” of GOP senators to garner support for the inclusion of witnesses, did not seem to take issue with Paul’s threat, noting the importance of hearing both sides.
“If he’s saying that both sides should have an opportunity, I agree with that, to call witnesses,” Collins said, according to Politico. “We’ll make the call on which ones.”