U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree called the latest revelations from the committee investigating the 2021 attack on the Capitol “damning” while she and the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation re-upped calls for reforms aimed at preventing another such incident.
The Democrat had the harshest words of any members of Maine’s congressional delegation on Wednesday, a day after a former White House aide alleged former President Donald Trump was dismissive of security threats on Jan. 6, 2021, and sought to accompany his followers to the U.S. Capitol.
Other members of the delegation confirmed they are following the hearings and continue to support reforming the Electoral Count Act, the 1887 law at the center of Trump’s efforts to use the legal system to falsely declare himself the winner of the 2020 presidential election despite President Joe Biden winning the Electoral College and the popular vote.
The committee’s public presentations have relied heavily on testimony from Republican staffers, many of whom worked in the White House, including Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump’s chief of staff who said Tuesday that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and said at one point that then-Vice President Mike Pence “deserves” to be hung for not acceding to his plans.
Pingree, who represents Maine’s liberal 1st District, called the recent testimony “damning,” saying in a statement that it showed Trump “wanted to physically join in the acts of sedition committed by insurrectionists on January 6.”
She went further than others in her calls for legislative action, noted a House-passed bill aiming to improve information gathering and sharing around domestic terrorism, with a specific emphasis on white supremacists and neo-Nazis. It was blocked in the Senate last month due to opposition from Republicans and the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said in a statement the hearings had led him to grow “more concerned that this unique and fragile democracy was nearly lost that day.” King pointed to a draft bill he put forward with two Democratic senators in February that seeks to update the Electoral Count Act, and called upon lawmakers to work on the bill and ensure it is enacted before the end of the year.
Both Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the swing 2nd District, which backed Trump twice, similarly expressed support for reforming the central election law, but did not weigh in on the contents or effect of the hearings.
Collins said in a statement through her office on Wednesday that she had been “following the hearings in the House and will continue to do so. The Republican senator previously expressed concern about the committee’s “partisan” makeup after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, refused to allow certain Republicans to join the committee.
Collins reiterated on Wednesday that she thought a nonpartisan committee would have been better.
She also reiterated her call for Congress to fix the “enormous flaws and ambiguities” in the Electoral Count Act and noted she is working with a bipartisan group of senators to make it clear that the vice president’s role in certifying the electoral college is only procedural and to increase the threshold for members of Congress to challenge a state’s electoral votes.
A Golden spokesperson noted the 2nd District congressman had supported the committee’s creation and would continue to follow its work, adding that he believes reform to the Electoral Count Act was an “important priority.”
“Congressman Golden continues to support accountability for those responsible for that day’s events,” spokesperson Nick Zeller said.