KEY POINTS

  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) says additional information would be helpful during impeachment trial
  • Collins is one of the vulnerable Republicans facing reelection this year
  • President Trump tweeted his support for Collins last month

With the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump finally getting under way in the Senate, the key question now is whether Democrats will be able to get the chamber to call witnesses during the trial. Although that was one of the key demands of House Democrats, their Senate colleagues will need four swing votes from the Republicans to get that motion passed.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the senators who had earlier indicated support for calling witnesses, reiterated Thursday that she believed additional information would be helpful during the trial. Incidentally Trump had just last month tweeted out his support for Sen. Collins in her reelection bid this year.

Collins is one of the moderate voices in the GOP and has broken ranks on key issues on earlier occasions, notably during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in 1999 and against attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. However, her backing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is seen to have eroded support for her among moderate women voters, making her one of the vulnerable Republicans facing reelection this year.

"While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful," Collins said in a statement. "It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999."

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

The rules resolution in the Senate is yet to be unveiled, but GOP Senate leaders have said they are in favor of a vote on whether witnesses should be called only after the opening arguments and questions.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Utah Senator and frequent Trump critic Mitt Romney are considered as the other potential swing votes among Republicans.