In 1999, Senator Collins Supported a Fair Impeachment Hearing with Witnesses — What Changed?

The Washington Post recently uncovered a video of Senator Susan Collins calling for “‘more evidence’ and ‘witnesses,’ in order to ‘get to the truth,’ and to fulfill the Senate’s ‘duty to do impartial justice’” ahead of the 1999 impeachment trial. 

Now, 20 years later, Senator Collins will only say she’s “open” to witnesses as she continues to take cues from Mitch McConnell. To ensure a fair trial, she must demand their inclusion. 


Washington Post (Opinion): Sen. Susan Collins during 1999 impeachment: ‘I need witnesses … to get to the truth’

By Greg Sargent
December 17, 2019

Key Points:

  • We’ve got video of Collins during the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, calling for “more evidence” and “witnesses,” in order to “get to the truth,” and to fulfill the Senate’s “duty to do impartial justice.”
  • “I am willing to travel the road wherever it leads, whether it’s to the conviction or the acquittal of the president,” Collins said. “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.” She added that this would help answer outstanding questions, “in order to fulfill our duty to do impartial justice.”
  • Collins, in calling for more witnesses and evidence, appeared to be genuinely struggling with the situation, particularly when it came to the article on obstruction of justice.
  • In the end, Collins voted against conviction on both articles, and she appears to have genuinely evaluated the evidence without regard for party loyalty. She perhaps wanted more evidence for a reasonable purpose.
  • It’s plainly obvious that this set of values deserves to be applied to the present. The witnesses Democrats want to question — such as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton — absolutely can fill in “gaps” and answer “questions.”
  • Both Mulvaney (who froze the military aid to Ukraine at Trump’s direction, just before Trump corruptly demanded that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky carry out his political dirty deeds) and Bolton (who privately argued with Trump over the frozen aid) have direct knowledge of Trump’s motives at an absolutely critical moment.
  • Both were blocked by the White House from testifying to the House impeachment inquiry.
  • So Collins will have to decide whether to side with Trump and McConnell and against truth and transparency, or with them and against the wishes of the base.

Read the full column here.

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