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Collins Meets With Activists Pressuring Her to Oppose Trump's Policies

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins met Tuesday with a group that's been actively pressuring Maine's congressional delegation to oppose President Donald Trump's policies.  The group, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, is helping organize protests scheduled for Wednesday.

The group has been pressuring Collins on everything from the fate of the Affordable Care Act to votes on Trump's cabinet picks. It has also asked the Republican to hold a town hall meeting.

The request mirrors efforts by progressive groups in other states as they attempt to grill Republican members of Congress in public.

The attempts are designed to replicate the town halls overtaken by conservative activists during the tea party movement eight years ago.

Collins' actions have been heavily scrutinized in the early days of the Trump presidency. She did not agree to participate in a town hall. But she did discuss several controversial issues that have surfaced since Trump was elected.

She reiterated her support for the ongoing Senate investigation into Russia's reported attempts to interfere with the election and the country's alleged ties to Trump's campaign. She also said she does not share Trump's "benign" view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him an "authoritarian thug."

Collins also discussed her conceptual support for an immigration program that allows some children of undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation.

She also discussed activists' frequent calls to her office, which she said have jammed up phone lines and voice messaging systems. She asked the group to help direct concerns over Trump and his nominations to her website. She said she's worried the flood of phone calls, "particularly those from out of state," might prevent other Maine constituents who need help from getting through to her staff.

Mainers for Accountable Leadership has used protests, phone calls and social media to lobby Maine's entire congressional delegation and organize against a president that it believes poses a threat to the country.