On impeachment, a step forward and a step back from Susan Collins

Susan Collins "wonders why" these details from Parnas are "only now being revealed," but there's no reason to wonder.
Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)ASSOCIATED PRESS
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By Steve Benen

More than most Senate Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been open to hearing witness testimony in Donald Trump's impeachment trial, and yesterday, the Maine Republican said she'd effectively succeeded.

As the New York Times reported, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) will, according to Collins, "include language in the Senate impeachment rules allowing a vote on whether to subpoena witnesses or new documents" during the president's trial. There's some question as to whether or not McConnell would've done this anyway, but Collins said she and some of her colleagues deserve credit.

And while that may have been a constructive step forward, Collins also appeared to take a step back yesterday afternoon.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a potential swing vote in the Senate impeachment trial, on Wednesday questioned why House Democrats have waited until now to release documents from a key witness claiming that President Trump had "knowledge and consent" of efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. [...]

Collins on Wednesday did not appear moved by a note on Ritz-Carlton stationery stating Parnas's chief objective was to ensure "the Biden case will be investigated."

"I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it's only now being revealed," Collins told reporters when asked if the evidence changes her view on the need to hear from additional witnesses in the forthcoming trial.

The problem with this response, as the senator probably ought to know, is that the House "only now" produced this evidence because the House only recently received it: after Parnas was criminally charged in a campaign-finance case, the Justice Department seized his electronic devices.

When Parnas got his phone back, he received a court's permission to share the information with congressional investigators, which he did. Then, the House shared that same information with the public.

Collins "wonders why" these details are "only now being revealed," but there's no reason to wonder.

Reminded of the relevant details she apparently didn't know, the GOP senator went on to tell reporters, "Doesn't that suggest that the House did an incomplete job, then?"

Soon after, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) appeared on CNN, and said, in response to the senator's question, "If Senator Collins or other senators are interested in the documents or why they haven't been available yet, they should turn those questions to the White House and say, 'Why are you hiding this? Why are you holding this back? Why aren't you releasing this information?'"

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin added that Collins' response to the Parnas revelations "should deeply concern the voters of Maine and anyone who wants a full and fair impeachment trial."

MORE: Today's Maddowblog