Below is an except from Chris Collins’ exclusive interview with WIVB News 4’s Dave Greber. It is the first one-on-one interview Collins has given since his indictment in August. We have also attached a response from Nate McMurray, the Democratic candidate in the NY-27 race.
DAVE: What did you think about the first committee that was formed to investigate you in Congress, your sharing of this information?
COLLINS: It was absolutely a political witch hunt – a push by the now deceased Louise Slaughter and Senator Schumer. For whatever reason they had, as I’m a Trump supporter and everyone knows it, and it turns out that a good friend of mine, Tom Price, was an investor with a private placement, with full disclosure, a physician. He saw the potential as well and he acquired the stock and that came up in his Senate confirmation. Then that started the whole idea of “what’s he doing buying stock in a private placement?” That’s how little companies, small companies, do things. It was nothing improper or anything else. But, that started the witch hunt, which was back related to Trump, with Tom Price, and anything and everything that they could find. They asked for investigations, whatever. I fully cooperated. Nothing came of it.
DAVE: Do you think that investigation with Congress, the first one, tipped off the FBI?
COLLINS: I can’t speak to what happened. I do know that the Senator and the Congresswoman kept calling on the SEC and the Department of Justice to investigate. So, I can’t speak to when they started looking into things or what triggered ultimately the charges against me today – which as I said a month ago, are unfounded, meritless. I’m going to fight this and I will be exonerated. That’s where I stand today. I can’t talk about the case, other than to reiterate my innocence and the fact that no one was more shocked than I was that this came forward. And I just have to deal with it.
DAVE: Around April, a grand jury was convened. There was a plea that was offered at the time. Why not take that plea?
COLLINS: Well, again, I can’t talk about the case. That was disclosed. I don’t even want to get into that. But, I am innocent and I’m going to fight this right to the end in court. And, I will be exonerated.
DAVE: CBS News has exclusive video of you on the phone on the White House lawn around the same time that these accusations are detailed in that federal indictment. Who are you talking to?
COLLINS: Again, I don’t want to get into the case at all. That’s something we will defend probably sometime next year in court, so I really can’t get into details.
DAVE: Did you ever divulge privileged information to either your son, Cameron, or anyone else?
COLLINS: Again, I’m not going to discuss the case, Dave, other than to again remind everyone I am innocent of the meritless charges that have been placed against me, and I’m confident I will be exonerated.
DAVE: The likelihood, based on what attorneys have said thus far, is that if we have your name removed from the ballot, it will be challenged by Democrats. Democrats, of course, have been very vocal about that, saying they will do that. If you are unable to have your name removed from the ballot, is your campaign still suspended? Correct? Are you not actively doing anything?
No. That’s a hypothetical, Dave. I really don’t want to get into it now. I have every confidence they’ll be able to get it done, and they’ve certainly reiterated that to me. So, at this point, I’m going to trust that they’re going to get it done.
DAVE: So, you believe your last day will be December 31st?
DAVE: According to you, this is your last opportunity or last couple of months in office. How is it going to be. like, when you have to box things up in here? That’s got to be tough to walk away from.
COLLINS: Don’t forget – I lost my re-election for county executive. I expected two or three more terms as county executive, truly did after transforming our county from the bankruptcy to being the strongest financial shape of any county in New York – from 62 out of 62 to No. 1 out of 62. I did that in less than four years. So, I have experienced this once. I did not expect to lose that election. I had to box up my office after losing that election and go home and say “now what?” I had no expectation of what that was and I spent two or three months trying to figure out what would be next when I decided to challenge our now Lt. Governor, who was the congresswoman in this district. It was a race they didn’t think I could win then. So, I have experienced this, just a different flavor of it, when I lost the reelection in 2011. And I did reinvent myself. My wife is the one that says “you will reinvent yourself yet again.”
DAVE: Is politics in your future do you think? It’s in your blood, yes?
COLLINS: No. It’s in my blood. I mean, giving back 10 years to my community is a highlight of what anyone would be honored to do. And the people that I have impacted from my staff and our commissioners and our financial position of Erie County after I’ve been gone for six or seven years speaks for itself. And, that’s what lets you sleep well at night. And, that was supposed to be in my resume where we end. It was not supposed to be fighting meritless charges in a court room, but life throws speed bumps at you and we’ll get through this.
DAVE: You have said these charges are meritless, and whether they have merit or are meritless, they have essentially created the end of your political career.
COLLINS: My reputation and my family, that’s exactly right. Well, life’s not fair. When I would give speeches in many cases to the youth, whether it was a high school graduation or college, I would say, remember one thing: life is not fair. And, when you think it should be fair, it won’t be. So, you are in charge of your life and where you go. But, understand in many instances, you don’t get the promotion you want to get, you don’t get into the college you applied for, somebody else got a promotion that you thought you… you can wallow in that in a self-destructive way, or you can pick yourself up and say “guess what, now what. This happened, I’m going to overcome it, I’m going to learn from it, I’m going to be stronger because of it.” That’s where my head is at right now. I don’t know what the next chapters are, and my wife is confident I’m going to reinvent myself. You’ve got to get up in the morning and go do something. You can’t go golfing and fishing every day. So, I don’t know exactly what that’s going to be. My focus right now is beating these charges in court. But I have my health, knock on wood, so there will be something that I can get back and I plan to do that. I just don’t know what exactly that will be.
But not politics.
Nate McMurray, the Democratic candidate for NY’s 27th congressional district, has issued a statement following News 4’s interview with Rep. Chris Collins that aired on Monday night.
“Tonight voters heard from a man who has lost the public trust. Congressman Collins played the victim, has refused to resign from Congress and tonight expressed surprise that the rules do, in fact, apply to him.
“Mr. Collins admitted that this ballot bait and switch, ‘has never been done before’ and there’s a very clear reason: it’s undemocratic, it’s wrong, it’s insulting to voters, and it’s a joke. Most importantly, it’s illegal and will not stand. Our laws exist for a reason and party bosses don’t get to change them just because their candidate was indicted.
“The truth is that Mr. Collins is willing to be a sham candidate, willing to dupe voters by running for whatever position these kingmaking ‘powers that be’ can manipulate the easiest.
“I’ve been crisscrossing the district and talking to the voters Mr. Collins pledged to represent and the truth is that they’re angry, they feel betrayed, and they don’t want to trust the system that knew about these allegations and propped up Mr. Collins anyway.” – Nate McMurray, Democratic candidate for NY’s 27th District