We Asked Mainers What They Think About The Senate Impeachment Trial

Jan 22, 2020

After pushback from Democrats on the proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did an about face Tuesday afternoon. He’s now offering three days, rather than two, for opening arguments from each side, but critics say it will still keep most Americans in the dark about the president’s actions.

So how do Mainers feel about impeachment and the process unfolding? We took an unscientific and brief survey on Tuesday.

Independent Claire Abbott of Buckfield says she had never voted in an election until 2016, when she voted for Donald Trump. And she says she’ll vote for him again, despite his impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors by the Democratic-controlled House.

“I just feel that they’ve been after him from the beginning and haven’t given up and honestly, I don’t believe they have enough to convict him,” she says. “I believe more witnesses do need to testify on what they know and that’s pretty much it.”

“I’m not saying he’s the perfect man, but he didn’t do anything of all the money they’re spending here,” says Michael Matthieu, a Trump supporter from Lewiston who says he’ll also vote for him again. “I think it’s a bunch of crap, really.”

Kathy Weiss of Vinalhaven says she thinks Trump should be found guilty, but she also wants the Senate to hold a fair and thorough trial.

“Don’t hold back evidence, OK, even if you don’t agree with what I think, let’s look at all the evidence,” she says.

McConnell abandoned a plan that would have prevented evidence gathered by the House from also being entered into the Senate record. The changes came after Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, argued that the trial rules should be similar to those used in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999.

Collins, who is up for reelection this year, is being closely watched from both sides of the aisle. It would take four Republicans to join with Democrats to get witnesses and documents introduced in the Senate impeachment trial.

“I guess we’re supposed to be looking at these three or four swing senators, but Susan Collins keeps letting us down. So I don’t have a lot of hope that there’s going to be anyone that will cross the aisle and hold President Trump accountable for what he’s done,” says Andy Jones, a resident of Eustis.

Democrat Deborah Whitney of Limerick says she has never voted for Collins, but she’s tired of hearing her described as a moderate.

“People have really investigated her record and the whole ‘myth of the moderate’ thing. It’s very strategically based. Her moderate views are most felt when they mean less. People can see it now,” she says.

Whitney also thinks Trump should be impeached, and she says she’s discouraged by the way the process is unfolding.

Several other people we spoke to said they just want Congress to get back to its regular work. They don’t like the timing of the impeachment trial and say there’s another way to remove the president from office.

“I’m not a Trump fan. However, he is our president, and I kind of respect that and I wish the rest of the country and our legislators would just move on and do what’s best for our country and vote him out if that’s what they want do next time,” says Roger Quimby, an independent from Winterport who says he did not support Trump in 2016. “I really think we should just move on. I’m really kind of fed up with it all.”

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine released a statement Tuesday, saying, “It is more obvious than ever that this is not just a trial in the Senate — it is a trial of the Senate.”

Maine Public reporters Patty Wight, Robbie Feinberg and Fred Bever contributed to this story.

Originally published 6:27 p.m. January 21, 2020