KEY POINTS

  • Sen. Susan Collins faults McConnell for admitting, "I'm not an impartial juror"
  • She's “open to witnesses" at the Senate trial
  • Collins only supported Trump's positions 34 percent of the time in the 116th Congress

Right after president Donald Trump's impeachment by the House on December 18, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) faced the TV cameras to boldly declare: "I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision . . . I'm not impartial about this at all.”

Analysts said McConnell's declaration of blatant partisanship falls afoul of the pledge each senator will take before the impeachment trial in the Senate begins. The oath states, "I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of (Donald Trump), now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”

McConnell's outright dismissal of the oath is worrying another Republican whose vote will be needed to defeat the Democrats' impeachment charges against Trump. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of only a few GOP senators that have repeatedly criticized Trump, assailed McConnell for saying he was coordinating with the White House about its defense of Trump.

“I’ve heard the Senate majority leader saying that he’s taking his cues from the White House,” Collins said in a Monday interview on Maine Public Radio.

“There are senators on both sides of the aisle, who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging this in an impartial way," said Collins.

She also said she was “open to witnesses,” which goes against McConnell's stated aim of calling no witnesses at all during the Senate trial.

The political website FiveThirtyEight.com said Collins, in her career, has only voted 66 percent of the time in support of Trump's positions. She only supported Trump's positions 34 percent of the time in the 116th Congress. On the other hand, McConnell supported Trump 94 percent of the time in his career and 90 percent of the time in the 116th Congress.

Collins' demand for fairness echoes that of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) who said she was disturbed by McConnell’s promise of total coordination with the White House. Political pundits say it will take only a few GOP defections to dash McConnell’s aim of controlling the supercharged Senate trial that will be held in a hyperpartisan environment.

Republicans control 53 of the Senate's 100 seats. Analysts said this means just four Republican senators breaking ranks will spell doom for McConnell’s quick trial and no witnesses strategy. It will take a simple majority of 51 senators to approve a witness during the trial and determine almost every step of the process. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is demanding four witnesses and wants to subpoena documents. McConnell has refused.

Susan Collins Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) answers questions from reporters on allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2018. Photo: Getty Images/ Win McNamee