Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the indictment of Donald Trump 'gives me pause.' Credit: Alex Brandon / AP

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AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said the historic indictment of former President Donald Trump “gives me pause” while reiterating she wants fellow Republicans to choose a different nominee to run against President Joe Biden in 2024.

The Maine senator spoke with reporters in Augusta less than three hours before Trump was scheduled to make his first court appearance in New York City. His charges are linked to a prosecutor’s investigation of hush-money payments made to silence claims of the former president’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, something Trump has denied.

Trump is the first former president to ever face criminal charges that were not formally released ahead of the arraignment, although they are believed to be related to falsifying business records. Collins, a centrist Republican who has a complex history with Trump, has treaded carefully in her early response to the indictment, as have other Maine delegation members.

Last week, Collins called the indictment unprecedented while saying she did not know what to make of it. On Tuesday, she said all Americans should react peacefully to the court proceedings and “the stakes grow higher” for the country at every stage of the prosecution, nodding to a question about other investigations of Trump related to efforts to undo the 2020 election.

“This is not the case that I would have guessed would be brought against President Trump and certainly the fact that it’s unprecedented in American history to indict either a sitting or a former president gives me pause,” she said of the New York case. “But I want to see the specifics this afternoon.”

Collins vowed in 2016 not to vote for Trump after he locked down the party’s presidential nomination. Four years later, she refused to say who she was voting for in the Trump-Biden race during her own campaign for a fifth term. The senator won despite a massive Democratic campaign spurred by her 2018 vote for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The Maine senator was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump on an impeachment charge related to inciting the Capitol riots of Jan. 6, 2021. The former president has derided Collins since then, criticizing her repeatedly after she began work on a bipartisan effort that passed last year to reform the Electoral College.

Since last year, Collins has declined to say whether she would vote for Trump if he was the 2024 nominee but has put forward Republicans she says would be strong alternatives. On Tuesday, she named South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

“There are a lot of choices here, and my hope is that my party will choose one of those excellent choices,” she said.

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...