Susan Collins has ‘great cause for concern’ for fate of special counsel’s probe

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BRUNSWICK — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said she is concerned over President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whittaker as acting U.S. Attorney General.

Sen. Susan Collins speaks to the media outside Bath Iron works, where she spoke during a ceremony marking construction of a new warship, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Brunswick, Maine. (AP Photo/David Sharp)

Collins praised Jeff Sessions after his resignation, calling him a man of integrity and great strength.

“He was unwavering when it came to protecting the integrity of the special council’s investigation,”said Collins, speaking at a Bath Iron Works facility. “When i read some of the comments that Mr. Whittaker has made about some of the parameters of the special council’s investigation it is of great cause for concern.”

Whittaker’s past comments regarding Robert Mueller’s investigation raised concerns for Collins that Whittaker might impede the investigation or report. Collins said she would support legislation protecting Mueller’s work as special counsel. She discussed the The Special Council and Integrity Act, a bill that would prevent any executive interference into the investigation from President Donald Trump.

“I talked with one of my colleagues last night who is a major co-sponsor of the bill to put some parameters around the President’s ability to fire the special council,” said Collins. “He is going to be pushing for that bill to be brought to the senate floor. I, too, believe that the bill should be brought to the senate floor, debated and voted on.”

Collins said she didn’t expect that bill to be well received by the president, but believes the show of support for the special council is needed.

“I know the president is never going to sign that bill into law and there are some legitimate constitutional issues,” said Collins. “Debating it and passing it would send a strong message that the special’s council’s work must be allowed to continue unimpeded.”

Collins also discussed the week’s midterm election results, saying she hasn’t had much time to reflect on the outcomes. In Maine, Democrat Janet Mills won the gubernatorial race, and the party now holds a majority in the house and senate. Nationally, the results were mixed, with Democrats taking control of the U.S. House and Republicans increasing their majority hold on in the Senate. Collins acknowledged some of the possible factors for a blue wave.

“I don’t know what the exit polls have shown,” said Collins. “I know that health care was an issue. I know that Justice Kavanaugh was an issue. I’m just not sure how it all interacts.”

Collins received a mix of praise and condemnation for her decision to back the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Hers was one of the key votes in placing him on the court amid accusations of a decades-old sexual assault.

“This is an opportunity for people like me who try to bring people together to find common ground,” said Collins. “It’s not going to be one party rule, we’re going to have support from both parties to get things done. Anyone’s who’s been elected wants to have accomplishments, my hope is that this will actually result in more significant accomplishments sent to the president.”

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