Sen. Susan Collins is pushing a proposal to have the Senate censure former President Donald Trump for his actions that led to a violent insurrection on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.

The Maine Republican told reporters in Washington, D.C., that the censure action would be in lieu of an impeachment trial in the Senate. She pointed to a vote Tuesday in which 45 Senate Republicans opposed such a trial.

Only five Republicans, including Collins, joined with 50 Democrats to support moving to a trial. A two-thirds vote would be needed to convict Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government.

“It is still in process, but I think yesterday’s vote on the Senate floor shows that it is extremely unlikely that President Trump would be convicted,” Collins said, according to a transcript of her conversation with reporters provided by her staff. “And that, indeed, the five votes to even proceed to a trial is probably the high mark on what you’re going to see for Republican support. So, it seems to me that there is some value in looking at an alternative to proceeding with the trial.”

Collins confirmed that she and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia have been privately promoting the idea of censuring the former president for weeks, and the notion now is gaining traction because of the lack of Republican support for an impeachment trial.

A censure would be a largely symbolic gesture amounting to a formal condemnation of Trump’s action. Only one other president, Andrew Jackson in 1834, has been censured by the Senate.


The vote Tuesday demonstrated to Democrats that they would not be able to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection that left five people dead in its wake, including a member of the U.S. Capitol Police.

A censure vote would give Republicans a chance to publicly castigate Trump for his involvement in the insurrection, but also allow them to avoid alienating the former president’s supporters, many of whom believe the unproven claims of election fraud that led to his defeat.

Collins said censuring Trump would be an action the Senate would take instead of holding an impeachment trial. She said she has spoken with Republican colleagues about the idea, but would not disclose their reactions.

A spokesman for Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent, said Kaine, the Virginia Democrat, had raised the concept with King, but that King had no comment at this time.

Collins also was asked if her censure proposal would include reference to the 14th Amendment, which could create a pathway for Democrats in the Congress to attempt to prohibit Trump from running for state or federal office on a simple majority vote.

The amendment says that no public official who has previously taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution shall be allowed to hold state or federal office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Collins said the language of the censure was still being worked on and that she couldn’t individually move forward on the proposal.

“It’s obviously not my call,” Collins said of whether or not to hold an impeachment trial, “and I realize the two leaders (of the Senate) have already locked in a schedule, but it seems to me there is benefit in looking at an alternative that might be able to garner bipartisan support. I don’t know whether it would or not.”

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