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Susan Collins says she's opposed to any retribution against impeachment witnesses

Posted February 8, 2020 11:03 a.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2020 12:01 p.m. EST

— Sen. Susan Collins on Friday again defended her votes to acquit President Donald Trump in his Senate impeachment trial and said she opposes "any kind of retribution" against those who provided evidence against him -- the same day Trump fired two key witnesses in the inquiry.

"I think it's important to understand that when you're in an impeachment trial, you consider the evidence that is before you," the Maine Republican told reporters on Friday after speaking at the Maine Chiefs of Police Association Winter Conference in South Portland. "You don't try to make predictions. You consider the evidence that's before you. In this case, the evidence did not meet the high bar that's established by the Constitution for immediate removal of the president from office. So that was the basis for my decision."

She added, "I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence."

Collins made her remarks before Trump dismissed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Both testified on the Ukraine scandal during the House probe.

Vindman's twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a National Security Council attorney, was also fired, "suddenly and with no explanation, despite over two decades of loyal service to this country," according to Alexander Vindman's attorney, David Pressman. Yevgeny Vindman had never testified or spoke publicly about the Ukraine saga. The brothers were walked off the White House grounds.

An adviser to Trump told CNN the firings were meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated.

"Flushing out the pipes," the adviser told CNN. "It was necessary."

Collins did not respond to three inquiries from The Portland Press Herald, which first reported her remarks, following the firings. CNN has reached out to Collins for additional comment.

Earlier this week, Collins said during an interview with CBS News that she believed Trump "has learned from this case" and that he "will be much more cautious in the future."

Since the impeachment proceedings, Collins has received threats and her staff has said her office has received derogatory phone calls. Last week, an Orono, Maine area business received an emailed threat referencing the senator and targeting school districts.

The incident is one of a few threats against Collins that were being investigated, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN at the time.

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