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Transcript: Sen. Susan Collins on "Face the Nation," January 27, 2019

Shutdown accomplished "absolutely nothing"
Shutdown accomplished "absolutely nothing" 06:37

The following is a transcript of the interview with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine that aired Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins. Senator, this 24-page indictment from the special counsel lays out written communication between Roger Stone and senior Trump campaign officials. They seem to be coordinating the timing and the release of information from WikiLeaks which had those hacked emails obtained by Russia. What does this pattern tell you?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: Well I really don't think we can draw conclusions until the special counsel has finished his work. But what this indictment and many others have shown us is the importance of the special counsel being allowed to conclude its investigation unimpeded.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Becau- Roger Stone and others have dismissed this as, "These are processed charges." But what's in the indictment-- lays out this connection with Russian intelligence giving information to WikiLeaks. Mike Pompeo when he was CIA director called WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service abetted by Russia." Do you think working with WikiLeaks should be considered a crime?

SEN. COLLINS: Well you have to know the circumstances of it. But I have great faith in Mr. Mueller's ability to pursue a fair and thorough investigation. He has not yet reached conclusions, but there is a disturbing pattern of lying to Congress that we're seeing in these indictments and no one should be allowed to do that with impunity. So, I'm very pleased that the special counsel is pursuing indictments where he believes individuals have lied to Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of those individuals, Michael Cohen, another former Trump adviser also facing some jail time-- accused of lying to Congress. And he admitted to it-- lying to your committee. He is being subpoenaed to testify. What is it that you need to hear from him and when?

SEN. COLLINS: Well we need to hear from him as soon as possible. But we need to ask him all the questions that he answered previously because we now know that he was not truthful. And in this case he's been convicted of lying to Congress. So we invited him in to testify and when a subpoena became necessary, it has been issued.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to the shutdown. There's no immigration deal, yet. There's no border wall, no partial funding either. And there's a six billion dollar price tag according to S&P, to the shutdown. What was actually accomplished?

SEN. COLLINS: Well I would say absolutely nothing. Shutdowns are never good policy, ever. They are never to be used as a means to achieve any kind of goal no matter how important that goal may seem to be. They are ineffective, they cause tremendous harm to innocent federal employees and their families who are struggling to pay their bills without paychecks. They hurt those who depend on government services. We've seen the impact on air transportation just this past week. On small businesses that have contracts with federal agencies, and ultimately they damage the economy. And that's why prior to the shutdown, at a meeting with the White House, I conveyed to the president my belief that he should not pursue this route.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What was the White House and was- Congress, too slow to realize the kind of pain and impact you're talking about? Your colleague Lisa Murkowski said you know she was kind of stunned by this. That elected members didn't feel the impact until they were delayed going through security at airports.

SEN. COLLINS: Well it didn't come as a surprise to me. Back in 2013 when we had a 16 day long shutdown, I led a bipartisan group that produced a plan to reopen government. I heard from Mainers who worked from federal agencies who told me of their personal hardships and it was heartbreaking to hear that. So I don't know how any member of the administration, or of Congress, could think that a shutdown was a worthy pursuit. It never is.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Director Mulvaney said that-- Chief of Staff Mulvaney now-- said that there's opportunity created here. That's what was won. What-- what's the best thing you can get in the next 21 days?

SEN. COLLINS: The best agreement that we can get is an agreement on border security, but an agreement to fund federal government through the end of the fiscal year which is September 30th. No more short term, stopgap funding measures and we cannot have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over our people and our economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mulvaney says it's there.

SEN. COLLINS: I know. And I hope he will join us and expect that he will, in working very hard during the next 21 days to prevent us from being back in the same situation--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And--

SEN. COLLINS: This is urgent.  

MARGARET BRENNAN: And a wall ultimately gets funded through this?

SEN. COLLINS: I think what will happen is that the efforts to continue to build physical barriers, which have gone on in the last two administrations will continue but not to the degree that the president has requested. What we should do is ask the experts, the nonpartisan experts at Customs and Border Patrol what are their biggest problems. It's gonna be a combination of physical barriers, technology, more border patrol agents, more immigration judges, more sensors. It's got to be an all of the above approach.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about a private matter that became public this week with your colleague Senator Joni Ernst. She revealed she had been the victim of rape in college and it became public that she was- she had suffered abuse at the hands of her now ex-husband. I think many people see a lot of resilience in her. Why aren't we hearing more from the party in terms of support for her?

SEN. COLLINS: Well I reached out to Joni just as soon as I read the devastating news. And I will tell you that colleagues during our lunches came up to her, people on the floor. She is a strong and remarkable woman and what she has endured has been just horrible. And I know that my heart goes out to her and I believe that's the case of everybody, Democrat or Republican.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time.

SEN. COLLINS: Thank you, Margaret.

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