Senator Susan Collins faced backlash on social media after she criticised a Maine official's decision to remove Donald Trump from the state's ballot while insisting she would not endorse the former president even if he is nominated.
Both Maine and Colorado have removed the former president from the ballot, citing concerns that his stoking of the Capitol riot is tantamount to insurrection.
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said she believes that Mr Trump violated the 14th Amendment and did engage in insurrection on 6 January 2021. The state's decision to remove Mr Trump will ultimately be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Ms Collins waded into the fray shortly after Mr Trump was removed from the ballot. She chastised the state officials for disenfranchising voters — even though he may have violated a Constitutional amendment, according to Raw Story.
"Maine voters should decide who wins the election – not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature," she wrote on X/Twitter. "The Secretary of State’s decision would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned."
Social media users noted that Ms Collins had previously criticised both the Capitol riot and placed the blame for the attack on Mr Trump.
“President Trump had stoked discontent with a steady barrage of false claims that the election had been stolen from him," Ms Collins wrote at the time. "The allegedly responsible officials were denigrated, scorned, and ridiculed by the President, with the predictable result that his supporters viewed any official that they perceived to be an obstacle to President Trump’s reelection as an enemy of their cause. That set the stage for the storming of the Capitol for the first time in more than 200 years."
Despite blaming him for the riot, Ms Collins ultimately voted to acquit Mr Trump during his Senate impeachment trial, saying at the time that she believed he had "learned his lesson."
Maine voters should decide who wins the election – not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature.
The Secretary of State’s decision would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) December 29, 2023
One critic reminded the senator that her vote is why the insurrection debate is even relevant, and advised her to "sit this one out, Susan."
Political commentator Keith Olbermann argued that Ms Collins' reasoning — that voters should be allowed to vote for whoever they want — flies in the face with a number of established laws that do not have anything to do with Mr Trump.
"I want to vote for Bill Clinton again," he wrote. "So, by your logic, I can — right?"
Though Ms Collins does not support Mr Trump’s removal from the state ballot, she also insisted that she would not endorse him heading into 2024.
She recently said she “did not” see herself endorsing the former president, even if he wins the Republican nomination, The Hill reports.
While Ms Collins was taking flak from liberals for protesting Mr Trump’s removal from the ballot, other Republicans insisted they needed to unify behind the former president.
“I have seen enough. To beat Biden, Republicans need to unite around a single candidate, and it’s clear that President Trump is Republican voters’ choice,” Senator John Cornyn wrote in a post on X/Twitter.