During a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Collins said Trump’s actions were “improper and demonstrated poor judgment” but did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
Collins said there was “conflicting evidence” in House impeachment manager’s claim that Trump put the hold on military aid to Ukraine solely to pressure officials there to open an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
“Regardless, it was wrong for President Trump to mention former Vice President Biden on that phone call, and it was wrong for him to ask a foreign country to investigate a political rival,” Collins said.
Watch Collins’ speech below:
Collins said the House Judiciary Committee’s report on Trump’s actions alleged that the president committed crimes, but the first article of impeachment — regarding abuse of power — “does not even attempt to assert that the President committed a crime.”
She continued to say that the impeachment managers “failed to address that point in their response” to her question about why the articles of impeachment did not allege that Trump committed a crime.
Collins suggested that because neither article of impeachment alleges that Trump committed a crime, the standard for an impeachable offense is even higher.
“While I do not believe that the conviction of a President requires a criminal act, the high bar for removal from office is perhaps even higher when the impeachment is for a difficult-to-define noncriminal act.”
She added that she felt the House “did little to support its assertion in Article I that the President ‘will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.'”
“For all of the reasons I have discussed, I will vote to acquit on Article I,” Collins said.
Regarding the second article of impeachment, Collins said House Democrats should have gone to court to compel Executive Branch officials to testify before charging Trump with obstruction of Congress.
“At a minimum, the House should have pursued the full extent of its own remedies before bringing impeachment charges, including by seeking the assistance of a neutral third party – the Judicial Branch.”
“Therefore, I will vote to acquit on Article II,” she said.
Finally, Collins said she believes that the voters should decide whether Trump deserves another four years in the White House, “We should entrust to the people the most fundamental decision of a democracy, namely, who should lead their country.”
In an interview with CBS News after her speech, Collins said she thinks Trump will be “much more cautious” about asking for foreign assistance after the impeachment proceedings.
“I believe that the president has learned from this case,” Collins said. “The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.”
Collins was one of three Republican senators who were seen as potential swing votes in the Senate’s impeachment trial. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), also once seen as a swing vote, announced on Monday she would vote to acquit Trump.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the third Republican potentially on the edge, is slated to speak about his decision at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who is running for re-election this year and was seen as a possible swing vote among Democrats, announced that he would vote to convict Trump.
“After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the President for both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” Jones wrote in a statement on Wednesday.
The Senate is expected to hold an up-or-down vote on the two articles of impeachment Wednesday afternoon.