On Tuesday morning, Republican Senator Susan Collins, who had been widely considered a possible “swing” vote in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, announced that she would cast her vote on Wednesday in favor of an acquittal. In an interview with CBS News, Collins said that she believed that Trump had learned a “pretty big lesson” from being impeached and would be unlikely to seek foreign assistance for his reelection campaign again.
But only a few hours later, Trump himself scoffed at Collins’ claim, saying that he had learned no lessons at all from the impeachment proceedings, because he had done nothing wrong, according to a Washington Post report.
“It was a perfect call,” Trump told reporters at a media lunch prior to his State of the Union address to be delivered at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday.
Trump was referring to his July 25 phone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he appeared to pressure the Ukrainian leader for a “favor.” That favor consisted of opening some sort of investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.
Collins, on Friday, was one of only two Republican senators, along with Utah’s Mitt Romney, to break with her party and vote in favor of calling witnesses in Trump’s senate impeachment trial.
But she said on Tuesday that, despite the fact that no witnesses were called and no new evidence was admitted, she had made up her mind that Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine did not reach “the high bar in the Constitution for overturning an election, and removing a duly elected president,” as quoted by CBS News.
Earlier, two other Republicans — Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Joni Ernst of Iowa — made comments similar to those issued by Collins. In weekend interviews, Ernst said that though she believed Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine scandal was misguided, he “now knows” that he must “go through proper channels” in order to carry out his wishes as chief executive, as quoted by The Washington Post.
When asked if he believed Trump would commit a similar offense in the future after being impeached over his Ukraine pressure campaign, Alexander said that because he was impeached, “you would think twice before you did it again.”
But their assertions were also contradicted by Trump himself on Thursday, with his claim that his conduct was “perfect.”
According to one expert, there are indications that Trump may already be in the process of repeating his actions in the Ukraine affair, this time with the government of Venezuela. As part of his attempt to extract political favors from Ukraine, Trump has refused to hold a White House meeting with Zelensky.
On Saturday, Venezuelan politician Juan Guaidó — who is recognized by Trump’s administration as the legitimate president of Venezuela — traveled to Miami at great personal risk, defying a ban on his travel by the country’s strongman Nicolas Maduro. Though Guaidó was reportedly expecting to hold a meeting with Trump during the visit, Trump declined to meet with him.