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Caught on hot mic, New England senators unload on Trump

Senator Susan Collins of Maine arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Caught on hot mic, senators unload on Trump
At the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday morning, Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, didn’t switch off her microphone. Apparently speaking to Sen. Jack Reed, R.I., the ranking Democrat of the committee.

WASHINGTON — At the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday morning, chairwoman Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, didn’t switch off her microphone. Apparently speaking to Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat of the committee, Collins discussed the federal budget — and President Trump’s apparent lack of familiarity with the details of governing.

After Reed praises Collins’s handling of the hearing, held by the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she laments the administration’s handling of spending.

‘‘I swear, [the Office of Management and Budget] just went through and whenever there was ‘grant,’ they just X it out,’’ Collins says. ‘‘With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible.’’


‘‘Yes,’’ Reed replies. ‘‘I think — I think he’s crazy,’’ apparently referring to the president. ‘‘I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.’’

‘‘I’m worried,’’ Collins replies.

‘‘Oof,’’ Reed continues. ‘‘You know, this thing — if we don’t get a budget deal, we’re going to be paralyzed.’’

‘‘I know,’’ Collins replies.

‘‘[Department of Defense] is going to be paralyzed, everybody is going to be paralyzed,’’ Reed says.

‘‘I don’t think he knows there is a [Budget Control Act] or anything,’’ Collins says, referring to a 2011 law that defines the budget process.

‘‘He was down at the Ford commissioning,’’ Reed says, referring to a weekend event launching a new aircraft carrier, ‘‘saying, ‘I want them to pass my budget.’ Okay, so we give him $54 billion and then we take it away across the board, which would cause chaos.’’

‘‘Right,’’ Collins replies.

‘‘It’s just — and he hasn’t — not one word about the budget. Not one word about the debt ceiling,’’ Reed says.

‘‘Good point,’’ Collins replies.


Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island.
Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island.Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press/file

‘‘You’ve got [Budget Director Mick] Mulvaney saying we’re going to put in all sorts of stuff like a border wall. Then you’ve got [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin saying it’s got to be clean,’’ Reed continues. ‘‘We’re going to be back in September, and, you know, you’re going to have crazy people in the House.’’

In a more salacious part of what was recorded, Collins then addressed a radio interview in which US Representative Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, suggested that if Collins were a man, he’d have challenged her to a duel for opposing the Senate Republicans’ Obamacare overhaul bill.

‘‘Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?’’ Collins asks.

‘‘I know,’’ Reed replies. ‘‘Trust me. Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? ‘Cause you could beat the s___ out of him.’’

‘‘Well, he’s huge,’’ Collins replies. ‘‘And he — I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.’’

‘‘Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this Playboy bunny?’’ she continues, referring to an infamous photo of Farenthold.

At that point, the mike went dead.