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Collins: Bolton allegations 'strengthen the case for witnesses'

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall MORE (R-Maine) said on Monday that a bombshell New York Times report on former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump said he hoped COVID-19 'takes out' Bolton: book US drops lawsuit, closes probe over Bolton book John Bolton: Biden-Putin meeting 'premature' MORE's upcoming book bolsters the case for witnesses and has prompted behind-the-scenes talks among senators.

"The reports about John Bolton's book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues," Collins said in a statement. 

Collins, who is up for reelection in 2020 and viewed as a key swing vote, reiterated that she is "likely" to support calling witnesses as part of the impeachment trial. But she added that she believes the decision should wait until after opening arguments from both sides and senators get the chance to ask questions. 

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The Times reported on Sunday night that Bolton claims in his forthcoming memoir that President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE tied Ukraine aid to help with investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

The report has injected a new dose of chaos into the Senate's debate over witnesses only days before the chamber is expected to vote on whether or not to allow additional witnesses and documents. Collins was part of a small group of senators who worked to the language guaranteeing the vote into the rules resolution. 

Democrats will need four Republicans to vote with them to open the door to calling witnesses. After the initial up-or-down vote, both sides are expected to be able to make motions for specific witnesses and the Senate would vote on those requests. 

Collins's statement came shortly after Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed MORE (R-Utah) told reporters that he thought it was "increasingly likely" that additional GOP senators will support calling Bolton.

“It’s pretty fair to say John Bolton has relevant testimony,” Romney told reporters. "I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton."

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall Schumer vows next steps after 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE (R-Alaska) has also signaled she is open to witnesses but is waiting to make a decision until after the initial phase of the trial. She has not weighed in on the Times report.

Every GOP senator, including Collins, voted against an effort to subpoena Bolton as part of the rules resolution that passed last week.