Maine’s congressional delegation reacted along party lines to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for a vote on an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

While Republican Sen. Susan Collins declined to comment on the grounds that she might be serving as a juror if there is an impeachment trial in the Senate, Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, and Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said a whistleblower’s report that the president asked a foreign power to aid him politically left them no choice.

Clockwise from top left: Sen. Angus King, Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Jared Golden and Rep. Chellie Pingree

Pelosi’s announcement came in the wake of a report by a whistleblower in the U.S. intelligence community who said Trump encouraged the Ukrainian government to investigate one of Trump’s political rivals – 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden – during a phone call between the two leaders this summer.

Trump has admitted that in the days before the call he ordered advisers to freeze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine – prompting speculation that he was holding out the money as leverage for information on the Bidens. Trump has denied that charge, but acknowledged he blocked the funds, later released.

“The constitutional role of a senator during an impeachment trial includes serving as a juror,” Collins said. “As such, at this point, it is not appropriate for a senator to comment on the merits of the House inquiry or to prejudge its outcome. Therefore, I will not be commenting on the House proceedings.”

King, who had been hesitant to weigh in on the impeachment issue, came out with his strongest statement to date. Though he fears impeachment proceedings could exacerbate the nation’s sharp divisions, King said the nation is at a new moment in time with “new facts and heightened urgency.”

“If the accusations of the president’s misconduct are true, as he himself has confirmed – if he has sought to use his position to urge foreign governments to influence the elections that allow the American people to hold their leaders accountable – there can be no alternative,” King said.

“We cannot allow any president to subvert the highest office in the land in order to increase his or her chances of keeping it,” King said. “For the sake of America’s legacy, and her future, we must be prepared to stand once again in defense of the Constitution and continue our ancestors’ pursuit of that ever-elusive more perfect union.”

Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st District, said it was “wrong” for Trump to ask a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political rival.

“President Trump has admitted that he asked a foreign government to help his political campaign. That is wrong,” Pingree said in a statement. “We, as members of Congress, have a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable and uphold the law, especially when national security and the validity of our elections is at stake.”

“The integrity of our republic rests on the action Congress takes now in the face of this unprecedented behavior by the president of the United States,” Pingree said.

Hours before Pelosi’s announcement, Golden, Maine’s 2nd-District congressman, issued a sharply worded statement on Trump’s actions, without mentioning impeachment.

Trump easily won the 2nd District in 2016, and the freshman Democrat has been cautious and sparing in his criticism of the president. But on Tuesday he set much of that caution aside, saying, “The House of Representatives must take every action necessary to combat this administration’s stonewalling of the rule of law.”

“The willingness of the president to legitimize or even entertain the involvement of foreign entities in domestic affairs is of grave concern,” Golden said. “As I stated about the findings of the Mueller investigation, we are seeing in this administration a fundamental failure to put the interests of the country ahead of political gain.”

“The president’s statements and reported actions raise novel and serious questions about his commitment to putting the good of the country before his own interests,” Golden said.

The president said he would release a transcript of his conversation with the Ukrainian president on Wednesday.

 

 


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