GOP Sen. Collins says she's open to impeachment witnesses

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says she's open to calling witnesses as part of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, but she says it is “premature” to decide who should be called until senators see the evidence that is presented.

Collins also said it was inappropriate for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, to pledge "total coordination" between the White House and the Senate during the impeachment trial.

"It is inappropriate, in my judgment, for senators on either side of the aisle to prejudge the evidence before they have heard what is presented to us,'' Collins told Maine Public Radio in an interview Monday.

Senators take an oath to render impartial justice during impeachment — an oath lawmakers should take seriously, Collins said.

Collins, who is running for reelection and is considered one of the nation's most vulnerable GOP senators, also faulted Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for saying Trump should be found guilty and removed from office.

"There are senators on both sides of the aisle, who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging that's in an impartial way,'' she said.

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WASHINGTON, DC - September 23: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks to journalists before votes on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Monday September 23, 2019. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 6: Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during the Senate Special Aging Committee hearing on "Veterans Scams: Protecting Those Who Protected Us on Capitol Hill on Wednesday Nov. 6, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks during an interview in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R, (R-ME), talks with Senator Dean Heller, L, (R-NV) during a meeting held by President Donald Trump on healthcare in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Senate Republicans about healthcare in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) talks to reporters as she leaves a meeting of the Senate Republican caucus to unveiling of Senate Republicans' revamped proposal to replace Obamacare health care legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lamar Alexander (RTN) make their way to the Senate chamber to vote on a series of amendments on the bill to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline on Capitol Hill in Washington January 21, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENERGY ENVIRONMENT)
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks at a news conference with a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., to unveil a compromise proposal on gun control measures, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) (L), Susan Collins (R-ME) (R) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (rear) arrive for former FBI Director James Comey's appearance before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) (L) and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are seated next to each other as they attend first lady Melania Trump's International Women's Day luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 8, 2017. Collins was one of just two Republican senators to vote against DeVos's confirmation. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Senate Republicans about healthcare in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2017. Trump is flanked by Senators Susan Collins, L, (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R, (R-AK). REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
SCARBOROUGH, ME - JULY 21: U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R) speaks during a one-on-one interview with a Portland Press Herald reporter on Friday, July 21, 2017, after a tour of the Maine Medical Research Center in Scarborough. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) greets actor, director, and writer Ryan Phillippe prior to the Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on 'Military Caregivers: Families Serving for the Long Run' on June 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - June 8: (From L to T) U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Dianne Feinstein, and Susan Collins talk as they wait for former FBI Director James Comey to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian Interference in the 2016 Election in Washington, United States on June 8, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Collins is the second Republican senator to criticize McConnell, who recently told Fox News he would be working "in total coordination with the White House counsel's office and the people who are representing the president'' during impeachment.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said last week that she was “disturbed” by McConnell's comments, adding that there should be distance between the White House and the Senate in how the trial is conducted.

“To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what Leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process,” Murkowski said.

The remarks by the GOP senators come as Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer hailed as a “game changer” a news report detailing the role of White House officials in withholding aid to Ukraine, a key element of the impeachment effort.

The New York Times reported new details about efforts by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other officials to cut off the aid to Ukraine. Senate Democrats are seeking to call Mulvaney and three other White House officials as witnesses in the impeachment trial.

“Simply put: In our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game changer,'' Schumer said. ”Will the Senate hold a fair trial, or will it enable a cover-up?"

McConnell said last week that he is not ruling out calling witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial, but he indicated he was in no hurry to seek new testimony.

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