Susan Collins Still Very Cool, Very 'Impartial' Over Her Inevitable Folding On Trump's Impeachment
Donald Trump might kill us all in a nuclear holocaust before Nancy Pelosi has a chance to send the Senate his articles of impeachment, but let's still check in on Susan Collins. The pride of Maine basks in the spotlight during these partisan squabbles because she's supposedly an "independent" voice. Unfortunately, that voice belongs to Mitch McConnell. You can tell whenever Collins says, "Gottle of geer."
Collins and four other Republicans who only exist in the minds of "Morning Joe" viewers could "force" McConnell to conduct a fair trial. The president doesn't want a fair trial because he's guilty and has watched enough "Law & Order" to know this would put him in legal jeopardy. Collins recently announced that she's running for re-election, so she's supposed to defy McConnell and screw over Trump just prior to primary season. Maine Republicans like Trump more than they do Collins. The deadline for a primary challenge against her isn't until March. This is not Hitchcock-level suspense.
People have gotten their hopes up because Collins joined her "moderate" Republican colleague Lisa Murkowski and claimed stoic impartiality like common Vulcans. But we shouldn't find this encouraging. If a house is burning down in front of you and you say you haven't decided yet if fire is responsible, you're not that useful to anyone. Trump benefits from people acting as if his open-and-shut shakedown of Ukraine is a complicated legal matter. Collins meanwhile charges Senate Democrats with not taking their oaths seriously and deciding ahead of time that Trump is guilty.
"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 this in an impartial way."
This is an obvious trap for Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders, who can't very well run for president against Trump while hemming and hawing and "I haven't really decided yet" about his impeachment.
Collins said she's "open" to witnesses -- bless her heart! -- but she's not going to lead a public charge for them or anything. That's just unseemly. She'll just politely express her concerns, behind closed doors, to Mitch McConnell, presumably while he plays Minecraft on his phone. Collins also says out of the fourth side of her mouth that it's "premature" to decide which witnesses the Senate should call until "we see the evidence." Witness testimony is evidence, and the White House doesn't want anyone seeing any evidence because it's all incriminating.
During Bill Clinton's 1999 Senate impeachment trial, Collins, then a first-term senator, requested to hear from witnesses in a statement that sounded like leftover lyrics from a power rock ballad.
COLLINS: I am willing to travel the road wherever it leads, whether it's to the conviction or the acquittal of the president. But in order to do that, I need more evidence. I need witnesses and further evidence to guide me to the right destination, to get to the truth.
Ultimately, the Senate voted not to call live witnesses. Instead, Senators viewed excerpts from closed-door videotaped depositions of Monica Lewinsky, Clinton's friend Vernon Jordan, and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal. Collins also voted against removing Clinton from office. Perhaps this is when she earned the bipartisan credentials she's long since squandered.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.