AUGUSTA — With Maine’s four members of Congress in Augusta on the same day special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was released, it was little surprise they were asked to weigh in.

Little surprise, too, that Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden had little to say Thursday about the contents of the 400-plus-page report before they had a chance to read it.

Much of what they did offer at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new Maine Veterans’ Home complex echoed statements they had released earlier in the day.

But both King and Pingree criticized as “political” the tone of a news conference held by Attorney General William Barr before the Mueller report was made public, and King later said the report contained “numerous examples of reckless judgment” by Trump and his advisers.

“I’m pleased that the report is finally out and that leaders of Congress will be given an opportunity to read a version of the report that is mostly unredacted,” Collins said. “It’s important that the American people have the opportunity to review the report. Until I’ve read it, I can’t comment much further than that.”

In the prepared statement she sent out around midday Thursday, Collins stated she would not be commenting on it “until I have carefully reviewed it.”


“The thoroughness of Mr. Mueller’s investigation is underscored not only by the length of this report, but by the approximately 500 witnesses interviewed, the 2,800 subpoenas issued, the nearly 500 search warrants secured, and the more than 230 orders for communication records obtained, as well as the 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence,” she said in the statement. “It also speaks well for the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the three Attorneys General who served during this investigation, that there were no instances where the Special Counsel was told that his actions were inappropriate or unwarranted.”

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King attend the groundbreaking of a new Maine Veterans’ Home on Thursday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

King noted that he had to go to Brunswick and referred to a statement he’d given on Twitter earlier.

“I will withhold my judgment on the Mueller report until I’ve been able to review the document – but the pointed political tone of today’s press conference did not match the transparent, objective approach needed to restore the American people’s faith in our justice system,” he wrote in the tweet.

In her statement, Collins said Barr had given a clear explanation for why certain items were redacted from the report, and that she was pleased he didn’t object to Mueller testifying before Congress.

“If Mr. Mueller were to testify, it could give the Congress and the American people another opportunity to better understand the facts and conclusions that he reached during his investigation,” Collins said in her statement.

At Thursday’s event, Pingree offered a less glowing assessment of Barr’s news conference, reiterating the content of her Twitter message.


“I think it was a very political act that Attorney General Barr would come out and give his opinion before the press or the Congress even had a chance to see it. Attorney General Barr needs to decide if he’s the AG of the United States or the president’s lawyer. It’s a big difference there,” she said. “Most importantly, we need to see the report, have a chance to go through it. We’ll look for areas where Russians attempted to influence our elections and what could be happening in the future. ”

At about 6 p.m., King put out another statement, also via Twitter. He said the lengthy report was proof that the special counsel and his team had “conducted a serious, thorough, and thoughtful investigation,” and said he intended “to carefully review these extensive findings in the coming days.”

In addition to saying that the investigation clearly revealed Russian interference in the 2016 election, King was critical of both President Trump and Barr, saying the report was “filled with numerous examples of reckless judgment by the President and his closest advisors,” and that the attorney general’s “attempts to mischaracterize the conclusions of the Special Counsel’s investigation have only served to exacerbate an existing divide in our nation, and have inflicted further harm upon our national discourse.”

Golden said Thursday afternoon that he would read the report that night.

“It’s a serious subject, and we’re going to treat it as such,” he said.

In tweet, Golden said he wasn’t “rushing to judgment on the contents of the Mueller Report.”

“I will give it the in-depth analysis that it deserves,” he tweeted.


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