U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Sunday that the Senate Intelligence Committee could use the help of a special investigator as its sprawling investigation into Russian meddling in the November presidential election – and whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign team – continues to widen.

Collins, who along with independent Sen. Angus King of Maine is a member of the committee, made her remarks to John Dickerson, host of the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”

Collins said testimony by former FBI Director James Comey, scheduled for Thursday, is crucial to her understanding of whether President Trump was trying to quash the FBI investigation into those issues before he fired Comey last month.

“It is very difficult to determine the facts. We need to hear directly from Mr. Comey,” she said.

Collins said she is particularly eager to hear what Comey has to say about his discussions with Trump, which the president referred to in his letter terminating the FBI director. She said it is a matter of tone and context and she hopes Comey can shed light on whether Trump was trying to force Comey to stop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn or just wanted to know where it was headed.

Collins said that the Senate investigation is taking up a lot of time.

“It is extraordinarily complex and we have a wonderful staff, but we would benefit from an experienced investigator overseeing the investigation,” she said.

Dickerson also asked Maine’s senior senator whether she supported Trump’s renewed call for a temporary travel ban from some majority-Muslim countries after the terrorist attack in London on Saturday night.

“I do not. I think the travel ban is too broad,” she said.

Instead, Collins said, the vetting process for allowing people into the United States from war-torn countries needs to be improved.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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