More than three dozen leaders in Maine’s Republican Party signed a letter to Sen. Susan Collins, chastising her for voting to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.
The letter, which the Maine GOP posted on Facebook late Wednesday, voiced appreciation for Collins’ leadership and for her willingness to explain her decision, but it also condemned “in the strongest possible terms” her vote last Saturday to hold Trump responsible for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“As leaders in our party we have fielded many emails, phone calls, text messages and all manner of communications from grassroots supporters and Mainers from all backgrounds,” the letter states. “They are almost universally outraged at this action and have demanded we take action in response. An important part of our job is to represent them and be their voice, just as it your job to be a voice for all Mainers.”
The letter claims Trump’s second impeachment trial was unconstitutional because he had left office by the time the trial began — a claim Collins and 55 of her Senate colleagues rejected.
“The purpose of impeachment is to remove a president from office,” the letter states. “This impeachment was politically motivated by Democrats who never accepted President Trump’s victory in the first place.”
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The letter claims also that the Democrats who presented the impeachment case against Trump edited videos of his Jan. 6 speech to paint him “in the worst possible light, ignoring his calls for peace, similar to the way a campaign might cut a dishonest 30-second campaign ad.”
The impeachment charge against Trump, as Collins explained when she voted to convict him, was that the president had spent months undermining public confidence in the election results, riling up his base and sending them to the Capitol as Electoral College votes were being counted to affirm then-President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
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By the time Trump’s supporters rallied Jan. 6, the president had already “stoked discontent with a steady barrage of false claims that the election had been stolen from him,” Collins said last Saturday, after casting her vote.
Trump was acquitted despite a 57-43 vote in favor of convicting him on the impeachment charge. A total of 67 votes are required for conviction.
The Maine GOP letter asks why there weren’t resounding calls to impeach Democratic politicians who had described the 2016 presidential election as “stolen.” Without assigning blame to any individual, the letter claims Democrats are responsible for sowing “the chaos that roiled our American neighborhoods for four years.”
Collins was among seven GOP senators who voted with all Democratic senators to convict Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol as lawmakers were counting votes. The attack temporarily halted the process, but lawmakers reconvened later that evening to formalize Biden’s win.
In a written response to the Maine GOP letter late Wednesday, Collins said she voted to acquit Trump in his first impeachment trial last year and voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial this year because she swore an oath to serve as an impartial juror weighing the facts of each case.
“The decisions I made in both trials were based on the Constitution and the evidence before me, not on my membership in a political party or any other external factor,” Collins said, in a letter she released publicly.
Collins added that the Maine GOP should work with her to win upcoming elections.
It’s unclear whether the Maine GOP executive committee still intends to consider a formal censure in addition to Wednesday’s letter.