Rep. Chellie Pingree, Maine’s 1st District congresswoman, said the latest indictment of former President Donald Trump should be viewed as an indictment of the entire Republican Party, which has, with few exceptions, supported him despite his mounting legal woes.

“On Jan. 6, 2021, American democracy came under attack by armed mobs set on overturning the presidential election results and overthrowing our government,” the congresswoman said. “Those mobs and those goals were directed by Donald Trump.

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

“If today’s federal indictment of Donald Trump is unprecedented that is because his crimes were unprecedented. At present, the leader of the Republican Party and the overwhelming front-runner to be that party’s nominee for president next year, is facing three separate criminal indictments totaling over 70 state and federal charges. It is unfathomable, and is itself an indictment of the Republican Party.”

But Pingree was the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation to offer a pointed response Wednesday. Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, said the charges are serious but also said that Trump is entitled to a defense. Sen. Angus King, an independent, declined to comment, through a spokesperson.

And state Republican leaders deflected questions and instead offered criticism of President Biden.

Trump was indicted for a third time this week by a grand jury – this time for his efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election by allegedly conspiring with others to spread known lies and sow doubt about the electoral process, while also seeking the help of local, state and federal officials to overturn the legitimate election results.


It’s the second indictment secured by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, who brought charges against Trump in June for hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, and for allegedly trying to prevent federal officials from retrieving those documents after they had been subpoenaed.

Trump also has been charged in an alleged scheme to buy the silence of an adult film star, with whom he had an affair, during the 2016 presidential election.

And Trump still could face charges in Georgia, where he pressured local election officials in a recorded phone call to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory there.

Elected and party officials in Maine have offered measured responses to Trump’s ongoing legal troubles to date, and Wednesday was no different.


A spokesperson for Collins said the senator is not supporting Trump for the party’s nomination and will not support him if he’s nominated to run against Biden next year. As for the latest charges, she said she’s taking a wait-and-see approach.


“Well, we’ll have to see what the political implications are,” Collins, who has four years remaining in her term, told reporters at an event in Brewer.

Trump remains the party’s front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and polls show a competitive race in a possible rematch with Biden.

A New York Times/Siena College poll this week showed Trump with a 37 percentage point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Republican primary. The poll also showed 17% of Trump supporters believe he committed serious federal crimes or threatened democracy but plan to support him anyway.

A spring poll by Digital Research Inc. showed that 45% of Maine Republicans and 14% of independents planned to support Trump in the Republican primary. That poll was conducted around the same time as Trump’s first indictment in March over hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

A June poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center after Trump’s second indictment – over the handling of classified documents – showed that 54% of respondents said it would not impact their presidential votes, while 40% of Trump supporters said an indictment would make them more likely to vote for him.

“Obviously, President Trump is entitled to his day in court,” Collins said. “The piling up of indictments increases his legal jeopardy, but we haven’t heard his defense in court. And fortunately, this is something for our courts to decide. He is entitled to a presumption of innocence, as is anyone who has been charged. And we’ll just have to see what happens.”


A spokesperson for King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, declined to comment on the indictment. King is running for reelection next year.

The politics of the indictment are perhaps most complicated for Golden, a Democrat representing Maine’s more conservative 2nd Congressional District, which broke for Trump in 2020, giving him one of the state’s four Electoral College votes.

Golden, who traveled aboard Air Force One with President Biden when he came to Maine last week, issued a short statement Wednesday about the indictment in response to an interview request.

“No one is above the law,” said Golden, who is up for reelection in November 2024. “Our legal system is built upon the principle of innocence until proven guilty and we should let the process play out without bias or political interference.”


State Republican leaders were not eager to address Trump’s indictment and directed their attention to President Biden instead.


Joel Stetkis

When reached by phone, Maine Republican Party Chairman Joel Stetkis referred a reporter to party spokespeople. Then, in a written statement from the party, Stetkis ignored questions about the latest Trump indictment, including whether the indictments would impact local support for Trump and whether the state party would support him if he’s nominated to run against Biden.

Instead, Stetkis sought to highlight the legal troubles of the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

“We think it’s curious that these indictments always come a day after the latest Biden Crime Family revelations,” Stetkis said.

House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, said, “I’m focused on local issues, not the drama of national politics.”

Rep. Amy Arata

And Assistant House Minority Leader Amy Arata, R-New Gloucester, sought to equate Trump’s actions, which critics say incited the deadly riots on Jan. 6 that aimed to stop the certification of Biden’s win, to comments made in June by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland.

Talbot Ross said during a Juneteenth event in Portland that racial justice activists should “storm the capitol” to protest the lack of progress made by the Maine Department of Education to incorporate African American history and genocide into the K-12 curriculum. Her spokesperson later apologized for the comment.

“All of us have the right to challenge perceived injustice,” Arata said. “Both President Trump and Speaker Talbot Ross felt they had truth on their side. However, as leaders we have a responsibility to be careful with our words and actions. I am hopeful for the day when we can put partisanship behind us and focus on working together for our constituents.”

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