For the first time since he was indicted, arrested and then presumably re-elected, Congressman Chris Collins agreed to sit down and take questions from our news partner, News10NBC. Collins represents the 27th District.
For the first time since he was indicted, arrested and then presumably re-elected, Congressman Chris Collins agreed to sit down and take questions from our news partner, News10NBC in his office in Williamsville, Erie County.
Our news partner was outside the courthouse in Manhattan on the day Collins was charged.
News10NBC: "You walk out of that federal courthouse, come down the steps and there is just a crush of people around you. What was going through your mind?"
Rep. Chris Collins, (R-NY 27): "Shock. Asking myself, 'what am I doing here?' I still ask myself that sometimes."
Collins is accused of trading inside information to his son about a drug company, Innate, in which they owned stock.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Collins saved family members hundreds of thousands of dollars because they sold their shares before the stock tanked.
The criminal complaint says moments after Collins learned bad news about the company, he called his son multiple times. Collins calls the charges meritless and pled not guilty.
The night he was indicted, Collins returned to western New York where he said, "I believe I acted properly and within the law at all times."
News10NBC: "So how do you explain all those phone calls listed in the criminal complaint starting on June 22?"
Collins: "Well, again, I'm not going to talk about my case. It will speak for itself when I get my day in court which unfortunately is not until 2020."
Because Collins unofficially won the election Tuesday, the trial will happen during his next term.
News10NBC: "So in the spring of 2020, and the trial starts or leading up to it, and somebody calls your office with a problem with the VA or Social Security or Medicare, you're going to get their problem fixed?"
Collins: "Oh absolutely. Just today we recovered $206,000 for a single veteran impacted by Agent Orange during Vietnam who had been stonewalled by the VA. Just this morning."
News10NBC: "And if that call came in the spring of 2020, either during or leading up to the trial, you would get that problem solved then too?
On Tuesday, just after Rep. Collins voted, News10NBC was interviewing him just outside the polling place.
That's when a voter heckled him.
Here is the exchange:
Rep. Chris Collins: "Let's just say the media has not been very friendly to me."
Voter: "As are your constituents!"
Voter: "We're here to vote against you."
News10NBC asked Collins about that on Thursday.
News10NBC: "And you could tell she was angry at you."
Collins: "She was not one of my supporters."
News10NBC: "Right, and you didn't say anything to her. I'm wondering what you would say to her or people like her today?"
Collins: "Presuming you are a conservative, you will like the votes that I cast. 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."
News10NBC: "But what if she's a moderate, average person who was upset over who she had to vote for on the ballot that you still represent?"
Collins: "Well I think the fact that you were there and you saw her, she was not that person."
Collins will go back to Washington, D.C. on Monday.
There are still thousands of absentee ballots to count, but his roughly 3,000-vote lead over Nate McMurray is, historically, tough to overcome.