Collins rejects new evidence in Trump trial after saying she'd welcome it

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Collins said in December that seeing the evidence in the case was necessary to determine whether Trump should be removed from office.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said on Wednesday she doesn't think newly released evidence, which happens to show Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump were deeply involved in the effort to force Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, should be allowed at the Senate impeachment trial.

"I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it's only now being revealed," Collins said, referring to documents Democrats released on Tuesday from Lev Parnas, the indicted Giuliani aide who turned over his notes and text messages with Giuliani and other Ukrainian officials as part of the impeachment investigation.

Parnas only just released the documents to the House Intelligence Committee because federal authorities had seized them as part of its investigation into Parnas' political activity. Parnas was ultimately indicted for breaking federal campaign finance law.

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When reporters reminded Collins of that fact that Parnas just released documents to House investigators yesterday, she replied, "Well, doesn't that suggest that the House did an incomplete job then?"

Collins' remarks ignore the fact that it was unclear whether the documents would ever be released at all.

Federal authorities had seized the documents as part of the investigation that ultimately led to Parnas' indictment on campaign finance charges. Parnas had to ask a judge whether he could then publicly release those same documents that prosecutors had seized.

A federal judge signed off on allowing him to release the documents only two weeks ago.

The evidence shows that Parnas, Giuliani, and Trump confidante and attorney Victoria Toensing were part of the effort to remove now-former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Some text messages even suggest that a top Trump donor was surveilling Yovanovitch, raising questions about her safety.

Collins' position that no new evidence should be admitted in the trial would also bar Trump from submitting any evidence that his legal team thinks is exculpatory.

Collins notably said in December that hearing all of the evidence in the case against Trump was necessary to determine whether he should be removed from office.

"I think it's premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the Chief Justice to both sides," Collins told Maine Public Radio on Dec. 31.

Collins is one of just a few Republicans who are open to calling witnesses at Trump's impeachment trial.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is opposed to calling witnesses, something that has happened in every other impeachment trial in history.

The impeachment trial is expected to begin next week.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.