Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Saturday she was working with a “fairly small group” of GOP senators to convince Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to hear from witnesses during any impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
“I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for both the House and the president’s counsel if they choose to do so,” Collins said, according to Bangor Daily News.
Collins did not elaborate on the number of senators in her group, but she said the upper chamber should be “completely open to calling witnesses.”
Collins, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), solidified support for McConnell’s plan to use the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999 as a model to proceed in Trump’s case instead of reaching a pre-trial agreement with House and Senate Democrats.
“The process moved to a period during which the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed. I believe that this process — the Clinton approach — worked well,” Collins told reporters, according to The Hill.
Critics of Senate witnesses say that the House, which is controlled by Democrats, had plenty of time to call witnesses and that according to precedence, the Senate is where the case against the president should be laid out.
Democrats counter that some of the witnesses they wanted to call were protected by the president’s executive privilege. House Democrats had sued the White House in federal court over the enforcement of subpoenas the lower chamber issued for those witnesses, but instead of waiting for the court cases to play out, Democrats instead voted to impeach Trump last month.