Politics

Rep. Chris Collins Is Combative in Post-Election Interviews

New York congressman says he will finish next term, but he faces insider trading trial before his next election

Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York blamed the negative perception of him among Republican voters on Democratic opponent Nathan McMurray and the media. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Chris Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president. These days, Collins sounds a lot like him.

Collins diminished the serious legal charges he faces, vilified the media and accused a critical constituent of being a “left-wing, radical liberal” in a series of defiant post-Election Day interviews with local media in in his Buffalo-area district.

Collins appears headed to another term in the conservative 27th District despite facing federal charges stemming from a bad investment in a small Australian biotech company. Federal prosecutors indicted Collins in August for leaking sensitive information about a failed clinical trial to his son, another investor, days before the company's stocked plunged to nearly zero.

Congressional ethics experts say they believe the Collins case represents the first time a sitting member of Congress has been prosecuted for insider trading.

Collins said he will “compartmentalize” his legal challenges from his work  in Congress until his court date in February 2020. 

“So, yes, I’ve got this hanging over me, I do think about it. But it’s not going to impact [my Congressional work],” he said. “In fact, it’ll be good for me to be doing my job in D.C.”

In another interview, Collins said, “there’s not a whole lot more to do other than stick it on the shelf for the next 15 months.”

Asked about having lost ground with Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016 but could not stomach voting for him, Collins placed the blame on his Democratic challenger Nate McMurray and the media.

“They’ll realize that some of the narrative that was portrayed by my opponent and supported by a liberal press and the Buffalo News was false...and my actions will prove they were false,” he said.

When asked about being heckled at his polling location by a constituent, Collins dismissed her as a radical.

Asked what he would say to the frustrated voter, Collins replied, “If she’s one of the left-wing, radical liberals like my opponent Nate McMurray, who wants single-payer health care, if you want to impeach Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh and start new hearings, you’re not going to like my votes.”

Collins dismissed the possibility that the woman might have been an average voter with middle-of-the-road views, saying, “Well, I think the fact that you were there and you saw her, she was not that person.”

Collins acknowledged the last few months have been tumultuous.

Asked by a reporter how he felt walking out of the federal courthouse on the day of his arraignment, Collins replied, “Shock. Asking myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ I still ask myself that sometimes.”

McMurray has not conceded defeat, citing thousands of outstanding absentee ballots. The Associated Press has not called the race.

Watch: Trump Declares Success in the Midterms, Spars With CNN Reporter

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