WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), considered one of the possible swing votes in the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, declared on the Senate floor on Tuesday that she will “vote to acquit” Trump of the two articles of impeachment approved by House Democrats along party lines.
On December 18, Democrats in the House voted to impeach Trump without the support of a single Republican, charging him with two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Following Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) pledge to vote against convicting Trump, Collins became the second of a small group of potential swing-vote senators to make their decision public in anticipation of the final vote scheduled for Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.
Despite pledging to vote to acquit the U.S. president, Collins, like Murkowski, criticized the president’s Ukraine-linked behavior at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment case as “flawed.”
The Maine Republican, nevertheless, noted, “Impeachment of a president should be reserved for conduct that poses such a serious threat to our governmental institutions as to warrant the extreme step of immediate removal from office.”
House Democrats failed to meet that burden, Collins said.
Echoing Murkowski, she concluded by indicating that voters should decide the fate of Trump’s presidency. Conversely, Democrats are pushing for the president’s removal before voters get a say, arguing that an election will allow Trump to cheat.
House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry nearly a year before the upcoming presidential elections in November 2020.
“It is my judgement that, except when extraordinary circumstances require a different result, we should entrust to the people the most fundamental decision of a democracy, namely, who should lead their country,” Collins concluded.
She explained her decision to acquit Trump of both articles separately in detail.
Collins said of article one — abuse of power:
The House did little to support its assertion in article one that the president “will remain a threat to national security and the constitution if allowed to remain in office.” … I do not believe that the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct — however flawed — warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office. Nor does the record support the assertion by the House [Democrat] managers that the president must not remain in office one moment longer, particularly given that the House delayed transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for 33 days. I will vote to acquit on article one.
Referring to article two — obstruction of Congress — Collins explained:
Article two seeks to have the Senate convict the president based on a dispute over witnesses and documents between the legislative and executive branches. As a general principle, an objection or privilege asserted by one party cannot be deemed invalid – let alone impeachable – simply because the opposing party disagrees with it.
The House substituted its own political preference for speed over finality. The House [Democrat] Managers described impeachment as a “last resort” for the Congress. In this case, however, the House chose to skip the basic steps of judicial adjudication and instead leapt straight to impeachment as a first resort.
Therefore, I will vote to acquit on article two.
Collins’s revelation that she will not vote to remove Trump further cements the president’s looming exoneration on Wednesday.