Collins: Trump ‘incited an insurrection’ to prevent transfer of power
GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said on Saturday that former President Trump “incited an insurrection” against the Capitol on Jan. 6, and laid the groundwork for months by claiming the election was stolen from him.
“That attack was not a spontaneous outbreak of violence. Rather, it was the culmination of a steady stream of provocations by President Trump that were aimed at overturning the results of the presidential election,” Collins said from the Senate floor.
Collins was one of seven GOP senators who voted on Saturday to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection. Though senators fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict the former president, it marked a significant bipartisan rebuke of his actions.
Collins, during her floor speech, laid out a timeline for how she believed Trump had been priming the political atmosphere for the eventual violent mob by repeating false claims of widespread voter fraud.
“The President’s unprecedented efforts to discredit the election results did not begin on January 6. Rather, he planted the seeds of doubt many weeks before votes were cast on November 3. He repeatedly told his supporters that only a ‘rigged election’ could cause him to lose,” Collins said.
Collins also pointed to Trump’s actions in the immediate aftermath of the election where he tweeted that it was “stolen,” saying it showed that his “post-election campaign to change the outcome began.”
Collins also pointed to a stunning call that Trump had with Georgia officials, where he urged them to “find” nearly 12,000 votes, as well as efforts to get then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the Electoral College results on January 6.
“In this situation, context was everything. Tossing a lit match into a pile of dry leaves is very different from tossing it into a pool of water. And on January 6, the atmosphere among the crowd outside the White House was highly combustible, largely the result of an ill wind blowing from Washington for the past two months,” she added.
“That set the stage for the storming of the Capitol for the first time in more than 200 years,” she added.
Collins, who won reelection last year, is part of a dwindling group of Senate moderates and was viewed as a crucial swing vote in the impeachment proceeding.
As part of an hours-long question-and-answer session on Friday she, Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) asked questions about when Trump became aware the Capitol was breached and what steps he took next.
“Instead of preventing a dangerous situation, President Trump created one. And rather than defend the constitutional transfer of power, he incited an insurrection with the purpose of preventing that transfer of power from occurring,” Collins said.
She added that Trump by “subordinating the interests of the country to his own selfish interests bears significant responsibility for the invasion of the Capitol.”