Republican Senator Susan Collins said Friday that she is working with a “fairly small group” of GOP senators to arrange for witnesses to be called during the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.
“We should be completely open to calling witnesses,” Collins said, according to the Bangor Daily News. “I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for both the House and the president’s counsel if they choose to do so.”
The impeachment trial is expected to start next week or soon thereafter in the Senate. The House last month passed two articles of impeachment against the president, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi afterwards refused for weeks to send the articles to the Senate until Democrats received assurances of a “fair” trial. On Friday, however, the Speaker announced she would submit the articles next week.
The slim Republican Senate majority is expected to easily acquit Trump barring unforeseen defections by GOP senators.
Collins, a target of Democrats in the 2020 congressional elections, is known for breaking with Republicans on high-profile issues. The Maine Republican voted with Democrats to acquit former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial in 1999.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ignored Democratic requests for new witness testimony and documents, saying Tuesday that he has enough votes to pass rules for the Senate impeachment process that would push the question of calling witnesses and seeking new evidence until after opening arguments.
Some Republicans have also said they would like to hear from witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton, who said Monday that he would be willing to testify.
Trump has called for his own witnesses as well, naming former vice president Joe Biden, Biden’s son Hunter Biden, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as individuals he would like to hear from.