AUGUSTA — Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland, told his House colleagues Thursday that he deeply regrets the obscenity-laced rant he made against President Trump in a post on Facebook last week that resulted in Hamann having to meet with Secret Service agents to explain himself.

Hamann ended the post, which was a reply to a friend’s post, with what appeared to be a threat toward the president. Hamann said he was trying to use satire to highlight how vitriolic Trump’s supporters can be, but he admitted that he took it too far.

“There is no excuse for using such vulgar and disrespectful language,” Hamann said in a speech on the House floor Thursday. He also repeated earlier statements that the post was meant to be satirical.

“My intent, when I wrote it, was in fact to critique and criticize the increasing presence of this language over the last couple of years,” he said. “The words were grotesque and inexcusably vulgar, terms that are too prevalent in the rhetorical lexicon of contemporary American politics.”

In the closing sentence of his post, Hamann wrote, “Trump is a half term president, at most, especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that (vulgar term).”

Hamann, who is serving his third term in the Legislature, also lashed out at Trump’s supporters and made reference to the president’s controversial statements about women and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was held prisoner for more than five years during the Vietnam War.

Republican Party officials captured a screen shot of the post before Hamann deleted it, which he said he did a few minutes after he was sure his friend had seen it. Hamann has said the discourse with his friend is often heated but without malice.

“When I wrote the post it was an intentionally defiant refusal to take it on the chin one last time, a refusal to be spoken to that way, a line in the sand, where I decided to cast off the shackles of respectful political discourse and fight fire with fire,” Hamann said. He said the post was meant for his old childhood friend who would take it as it was intended, as a satirical critique.

House Speaker Sara Gideon condemned the post and removed Hamann from both of his Legislative Committees as a punishment for the break in decorum.

Hamann said he and his family had been subjected to threatening phone calls and messages, including death threats. But he also said he had received supportive calls from colleagues in the Legislature on both sides of the aisle.

“I am sorry to those who I offended,” Hamann said. “Just because I have a First Amendment right to say something or do something, it doesn’t mean it is always appropriate to do so.” Hamann promised that going forward he would bring a more civil and professional tone to his political work.

This is not the first time that a Maine lawmaker has found himself facing criticism for an offensive social media post. In March 2015, former state Sen. Mike Willette, a Presque Isle Republican, was forced to resign the chairmanship of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee after he posted derogatory remarks about then-President Barack Obama and Muslims on Facebook.

Willette posted an item that criticized Obama’s handling of the Islamic State and said that Obama would deal with the terrorist group at “the family reunion.” Previous posts by Willette included comments and memes about Muslims and immigrants that have been criticized as racist, bigoted and xenophobic.

Willette publicly apologized for the posts during a speech on the Senate floor before he resigned his chairmanship.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: thisdog

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