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Washington, D.C. -This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was interviewed by John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
A transcript of the interview follows:
“Face the Nation”
October 29, 2017
DICKERSON: We turn now to another Republican, Maine’s Susan Collins, she sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the congressional committees investigating Russian attempts to influence our elections. Senator, given that experience and the interviews and work you’ve done on that committee, how do you process this news about sealed indictments from the special counsel?
COLLINS: From the very beginning, this investigation has gone along two tracks: One is the independent counsel's investigation to see if there is criminal wrongdoing. And it looks like we're going to find out as early as tomorrow about some indictments in that area. The other has been the Intelligence Committee’s evaluation of the extent of Russian meddling in the last election and to try to—along with the independent counsel—answer the question of whether or not there was any collusion between members of President Trump’s campaign team and the Russians. We are having a very interesting hearing this week looking at the Russians’ use of social media to influence the elections and to sow the seeds of dissension in our country.
DICKERSON: Any sign of collusion after all these interviews, all this time?
COLLINS: I have not yet seen any definitive evidence of collusion. I've seen lots of evidence that the Russians were very active in trying to influence the election.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the so-called dossier, which is information that was gathered of all kinds about candidate Trump. The Washington Post reported this week that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee donated—paid for—part of its creation. John Podesta, the Clinton Campaign Manager, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz came before the Senate Intelligence Committee and said, “We don't know who paid for this.” Well, that was before this Washington Post report. Sitting next to Podesta was the lawyer from the Clinton campaign who paid for the report. So, these guys need to come back and sit down and tell the committee what is up?
COLLINS: They absolutely need to be recalled. It's difficult to imagine that a campaign chairman, that the head of the DNC, would not know of an expenditure of this magnitude and significance. But perhaps there’s something more going on here. But certainly, it's worth additional questioning of those two witnesses.
DICKERSON: And what about the lawyer?
COLLINS: And the lawyer. Absolutely. In fact, he more than anyone.
DICKERSON: Let's go now to the criticisms from Senator Corker and Senator Flake this week. Senator Flake, in particular said—had a message for his Republican colleagues—and he said, basically, don't be complicit. What did you make of that message?
COLLINS: First, let me say that Jeff Flake is one of my best friends in the Senate. I have enormous respect for him. And I’m really sorry that he's not going to be running for re-election. The Senate will be a lesser place without his being in it. Having said that, I think we need to accept that Donald Trump is our president. And my approach is to work with my fellow Republicans, with Democrats, with House members and also with this administration. That is the only way that we're going to get things done in this Congress. It's the only way that we can assure the American people that they can have some trust in government. And that we're working to better their lives.
DICKERSON: Senator Flake would say that there is some responsibility, though, even while you're trying to get things done to call out those things that the president does that might get in the way of you getting things done.
COLLINS: Absolutely. And I have not hesitated to disagree with the president, whether it's with his comments after the incidents in Charlottesville or on the very important health care issues. So I'm going to continue to do that. I'll work with the president and support his policies when I think he's right. But I will not hesitate to oppose him when I think that he is misguided.
DICKERSON: The next big issue with which you have disagreement or total agreement with the president is tax cuts. What are you looking for in this that concerns you or that you'd like to make sure is in this package?
COLLINS: Three major principles will guide my evaluation of tax cuts, which I do think we need: First, I want the tax code to be simpler, fairer, and more pro-growth. That's really important. We can really lift standards of living for working families in this country. We can help small businesses create jobs. We can have a beneficial impact on the economy as a whole if we do tax reform right. So far, I’m encouraged by the discussions that I’ve had with the members of the Senate Finance Committee, and I’m hopeful that we can put together a package that will attract some Democratic support, too.
DICKERSON: What about the deficit effects of this, though? You in the past have asked for—you’ve been against some tax cuts because of the effect on the deficit. In this case a lot of people are calling alarms.
COLLINS: That's why it's important that this tax reform package be pro-growth. And if you look at the Congressional Budget Office analysis, if we have just four tenths of one percent increase in our GDP, which is entirely realistic, it will cover the cost of the tax reform package.
DICKERSON: Final question I want to ask you: Congresswoman Jackie Speier came forward, she had been a House staffer, and she talked about the sexual assault that she experienced 40 years ago and she says that this kind of misconduct is still rampant on Capitol Hill. You were a staffer once. What was your reaction to this?
COLLINS: I have not witnessed that. But that doesn't mean that it isn't occurring. I think we're seeing that there is sexual harassment and even assault in virtually [all] workplaces across the country. That's something that certainly all of us need to work on, but it's not something that I personally experienced.
DICKERSON: Senator Collins, thanks for being with us.
COLLINS: Thank you.