Let’s begin with a few simple statements of fact.

Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, was found guilty by a Manhattan jury Thursday of all 34 counts against him in a criminal trial that lasted seven weeks. The conviction is the latest in a series of legal findings against Trump, the first president to become a convicted felon. It could land him in prison.

Within hours of the verdict, Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins released the following statement:

“It is fundamental to our American system of justice that the government prosecutes cases because of alleged criminal conduct regardless of who the defendant happens to be. In this case the opposite has happened. The district attorney, who campaigned on a promise to prosecute Donald Trump, brought these charges precisely because of who the defendant was rather than because of any specified criminal conduct. The political underpinnings of this case further blur the lines between the judicial system and the electoral system, and this verdict likely will be the subject of a protracted appeals process.”

Silence on the historic outcome would probably have been good enough for disgruntled Trump-supporting Mainers – and sufficient for Trump himself, assuming he’s paying attention.

Clear-headed, appropriate support of the judicial process and the 12 jurors’ work would have pleased many other voters – indeed, this was the level and professional response of each of the three other members of Maine’s congressional delegation – and it would have been right.


In this case the opposite has happened.

Collins chose to promptly join in the chorus of voices castigating the outcome without care for the consequences, attacking it in imprecise, broad-brush terms like “political underpinnings” and focusing on her interpretation of an individual district attorney rather than on the mechanics of the trial, the scope of the allegations and the evidence, or the concept of equal justice under the law.

Sen. Collins has not done nearly enough to distance herself from Trump or to reject his candidacy for a second term in office.

In 2021, Collins was one of seven Republican senators to vote to convict Trump following his second impeachment on Jan. 6 charges. This past March, Collins said that she would not personally give Trump her vote in November and “will not support him.”

But the senator has avoided categorical criticism of the embattled former president. Writers in these pages and others around Maine have, under increasingly eye-popping circumstances and statements, stopped just short of calling for Collins calling for his head, impatient for an unequivocal condemnation of Trump by their Republican senator in D.C. – condemnation that we have no reason to expect will ever come.

These same complaints often ask about Collins’ “backbone” – where is it?

Where is the courage needed to stand far apart from the thickening fog of criminality that cloaks Trump, the repeated threats to undermine our country’s institutions, processes, norms? Where is the political fearlessness? Where is the confidence that this editorial board would like to think would be rewarded at the voting booth?

Last night, those beseeching constituents were handed their clear answer. There is something pretty fearless about an elected representative who believes it’s acceptable, in the current, terrifying political climate, to seek to undermine the rule of law in response to a single criminal verdict.

Fearless – and shameless.

Does Trump’s conviction change your opinion going into the November presidential election?

On Thursday, Donald Trump became the first former American president to be convicted of felony crimes Thursday as a New York jury found him guilty of all 34 charges in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to a porn actor who said the two had sex. Do the former president's felon convictions change your opinion of him, or who you'll vote for, going into the election?

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