'Senator Collins is an independent thinker, who never hesitates to do what she believes is right,' the chair of the Maine Republican Party wrote, once upon a time.
Maine Republicans are reportedly scheming to censure GOP Sen. Susan Collins over her vote to convict Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection. Just months ago, they were praising her for her independence.
According to the Bangor Daily News, Maine GOP Chair Demi Kouzounas emailed her party Saturday noting "many of you are upset after what happened today as are we" and "to be prepared for an emergency state committee meeting in the near future" Collins' vote. Local party leaders are urging a vote to censure her.
Their anger stems from Saturday's vote at Trump's second impeachment trial. Collins, who voted to acquit Trump at his first impeachment — on the premise that he had learned "a pretty big lesson" — was one of seven Republicans who joined every Democrat in voting to convict him. Despite this bipartisan support, Trump escaped punishment by a ten-vote margin. Many of the senators voting not to hold him accountable for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection said they did so based on a technicality, believing it too late to convict an ex-president.
A Maine Republican Party spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
But the same Republicans who now are angrily threatening to punish Collins for her disloyalty to their 2020 nominee were urging Maine voters to reelect her on the same basis back before the election.
In a March 2017 statement — still visible on the Maine GOP party website — Kouzounas thanked Collins for supporting the confirmation of Trump's first Supreme Court appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch. "Senator Collins is an independent thinker, who never hesitates to do what she believes is right," she bragged.
Last August, she defended the senator for skipping the Republican National Convention and claimed that Collins and Trump supported each other. Noting that Collins worked with the president on areas of agreement and opposed him on areas of disagreement, Kouzounas said that this was "how she has been able to deliver results for the people of Maine."
After Collins won an unexpectedly comfortable reelection over then-Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, the state GOP put out a bragging statement, titled, "Can't Stop Collins."
“Throughout her career Senator Collins has delivered for the people of Maine and on Election Day the people of Maine delivered for her,” Kouzounas boasted. "Maine voters saw through the smoke and mirrors and elected the person who fights for them.”
The move to punish Collins comes as the GOP establishment around the country seeks to do the same to other Republicans who backed Trump's impeachment or conviction.
North Carolina Republicans are expected to censure Sen. Richard Burr for his "shocking and disappointing" vote. The Louisiana GOP executive committee unanimously censured Sen. Bill Cassidy on Saturday and Utah Republicans are reportedly circulating a censure petition against Sen. Mitt Romney. Previously, at least seven of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last month have been censured by state or local parties.
In a statement on Saturday, Collins noted that her vote stemmed from her "oath and duty to defend the Constitution of the United States."
"The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by President Trump meet the constitutional standard of 'high crimes and misdemeanors,'" she said, "and for those reasons I voted to convict Donald J. Trump."
An ABC News-Ipsos poll, released Monday, showed almost 60% of Americans believe Trump should have been convicted.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.