Maine’s congressional delegation sharply split on partisan lines in reacting to the news that President Trump fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday. Comey was overseeing an investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials.

Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said the move was “troubling” and said it was now “urgently necessary” to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the law enforcement investigation of Russian contacts with Trump.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents the 1st District, has for months been calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor, and she reiterated that stance in a statement Monday night. “‘You’re fired’ is not something you should be able to tell the people investigating you,” Pingree said. “This isn’t a game show.”

Both King and Pingree dismissed the White House’s explanation for the firing: that it was because Comey acted inappropriately in July 2016 when he publicly announced the reasons he was not seeking an indictment of Hillary Clinton over her email server.

“To dismiss Director Comey based on actions he took last year, when the president has been in office for more than five months, just doesn’t add up and raises more questions than it answers,” King said.

By contrast, Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin – both Republicans – said there was little cause for concern.


Collins said in a statement that the firing was “the inevitable conclusion” of Comey’s actions in July.

“Any suggestion that today’s announcement is somehow an effort to stop the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s attempt to influence the election last fall is misplaced,” she added. “The president did not fire the entire FBI; he fired the director. I have every confidence that the FBI will continue to pursue its investigation.”

The White House said it acted on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had to recuse himself from oversight of the investigation after failing to disclose his own contacts with the Russian ambassador. Collins championed Sessions’ appointment, introducing him at his senate confirmation hearing.

Poliquin, who represents Maine’s 2nd District, said in a statement that he “will continue to closely monitor” the investigations by the FBI and the Senate intelligence committee, which Collins and King both serve on. “I remain confident that the individuals who work for the American people at the Federal Bureau of Investigation will continue to perform their duties professionally.”

Other Republicans voiced considerably more concern, including the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, who said he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of Comey’s termination, which “further confuses an already difficult investigation by the committee.”

Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a leader of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeted that his staff was preparing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia,” while Senator John McCain of Arizona said the firing “confirms the need and the urgency” for such a commission.

Collins and King both expressed faith that their committee’s investigation would proceed in a non-partisan manner, while the ranking Democrat on the committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, called for Comey to testify before them.

Colin Woodard can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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