U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says even though she witnessed last week’s insurrection at the Capitol provoked by President Donald Trump, she is not ready to decide how she will vote at the impeachment trial.
The Republican senator said she has no doubt that Trump instigated the rally at the Capitol, which turned into a violent insurrection that claimed five lives.
“The president’s actions were absolutely appalling, and he bears responsibility for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol,” she said.
Collins says U.S. senators will play the unique roles of judge, jury and witness in weighing Trump’s actions and their part in the insurrection. She believes the House moved too quickly on impeachment and should have held hearings to gather facts to use at trial in the Senate. She cites reports of notes left in the Capitol by rioters that allegedly indicate they were targeting some lawmakers to be killed or injured.
“That is exactly the kind of evidence that the House didn’t have in its rushed proceedings that should be entered into the record for us to consider in the Senate,” Collins says.
Collins believes more evidence will be uncovered as the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies continue their investigation and make more arrests. But until the Senate trial provides details of the insurrection and the president’s role, she says she is withholding judgment.
“I am not going to prejudge the outcome of the trial before I have heard the evidence,” she said. “That would be an Alice in Wonderland approach of verdict first, trial second.”
Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King has already said that he will vote to convict Trump, based on what’s already known, and what many senators themselves witnessed during the breach of the Capitol. But he says he is willing to be convinced otherwise by the facts that come out at trial.
“Lincoln said we always want to find the facts and if the facts change, he would change his position. I can’t do any better than that,” he says.
It’s not clear when the Senate trial would be held. The Constitution requires that it be immediately convened after the House delivers the articles of impeachment to the Senate.