Susan Collins was not the only Republican senator to offer a pathetic explanation for acquitting Donald Trump. But she took things a bizarre step further by insisting early last week that Trump’s impeachment without an acquittal would prove to be an effective deterrent. The day before she cast her vote, Collins told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell, “I believe that the President has learned from this case” and that impeachment is “a pretty big lesson.” She then insisted that Trump “will be much more cautious in the future.”
The notion that Trump has learned a lesson from his impeachment experience is ludicrous because self-reflection and self-improvement have never been part of Trump’s programming. Collins tried to backpedal her comments a day later, telling Fox News’ Martha MacCallum last Wednesday, “It’s more aspirational on my part. It’s more that I hope that he’s listened to the many voices in the Senate who have pointed out that the call was very problematic.” The problem is, Collins already insisted that Trump “will” change as part of justifying her vote. If Collins meant that she only hoped he would change, then that whole rationale falls apart.
Now that a week has passed and Trump has proven himself to be the same petty and vindictive oaf that he was before the vote, Collins has moved on to gaslighting. This morning, CNN’s Manu Raju asked Collins what lessons Trump learned from impeachment. Collins refused to answer three times, then shut him out of her office. Hours later, Annie Clark, Collins’ Communications Director, tweeted, “Let’s be clear –
@SenatorCollins’ decision on impeachment had nothing to do with predictions about President Trump’s future behavior” and it “had nothing to do with hoping the President would learn a lesson.”
NBC News’ Peter Alexander then tried a different tactic, presenting the question directly to Trump this afternoon. Unlike Collins, Trump at least answered the question: “Uh, that the Democrats are crooked, they’ve got a lot of crooked things going. That they’re vicious. That they shouldn’t have brought impeachment. And that my poll numbers are 10 points higher because of fake news like NBC, which reports the news very inaccurately — probably more inaccurately than CNN, if that’s possible.”
Last year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said that Trump was “self-impeaching,” and sure enough he got himself impeached. Now, it is clear that Trump is self-destructing and taking his sycophantic Republican Party down with him. Trump may appear to be relishing his newfound “exoneration,” but all he is doing is increasing the size and hue of the blue wave that needs to wash them all away in November.