What Changed Susan? In 1999, She Believed “In Government In Sunshine” But Last Night Tried to Clear Reporters From Front of Press Gallery

Senator Collins Voted Against Every Subpoena for Witnesses and Evidence but Says “Not Really’ Seen Anything That’s ‘Stuck Out to Her

Senator Susan Collins “said loudly” last night in the Senate Chamber that she wanted to clear reporters from the front row of the press gallery – a break not only with how reporters typically cover Senate proceedings but also with what she said in 1999 when she claimed to “believe strongly in government in sunshine.” Senator Collins has also stood with Mitch McConnell and his “unprecedented crackdown” on media access as part of his attempt to push their sham process free of public scrutiny.

Here’s what happened last night: 

“Those reporters are leaning over, and they’re looking into the chamber, and they’re reporting on what the senators are doing. And you know, let’s face it, these senators like Senator Collins, they’re all under water in their states in terms of their disapproval numbers going up. They have to be looking at that as well, and I think Senator Collins doesn’t want that news going back to Maine”

Here is what Collins said in 1999: 

“[O]ur debate should be conducted in full view of the American people, not behind closed doors.”

[New York Times, 1/16/20]

“I strongly believe in government in sunshine… The American people have the right to have a full understanding of how we reached our decisions on this very momentous matter.

[C-SPAN, 2/5/99]

“I support Kay Bailey Hutchison’s motion to have the final deliberations be open… I think it would increase public accountability and understanding of our final decisions.”

[CBS, Face the Nation, 2/7/99]

This episode is the latest in a series of reversals Senator Collins has made from her stance 20 years ago, and comes just days after she voted with Senator Mitch McConnell to block every single subpoena for witnesses and key documents. During the Clinton impeachment, Senator Collins demanded witnesses testify and infamously said “I need more evidence.”

Despite the fact that she prevented new information from coming to light, Senator Collins told a reporter she has “not really” seen anything that’s “stuck out to her” so far in the proceedings. 

The DSCC launched WhatChangedSusan.com to highlight Senator Collins’ alignment with Mitch McConnell and refusal to set the same standards for a fair impeachment process that she did in 1999. WhatChangedSusan.com will be updated regularly as the impeachment process unfolds.


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