Former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District hedged Tuesday on a previous call for an investigation of the FBI’s raid earlier this month of former President Donald Trump’s home, saying both the FBI and Trump should be looked into.
Trump figures to be a focal point in the former Republican congressman’s November rematch of his 2018 race with Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat who split the conservative-leaning district with Trump two years ago and now faces a competitive race for a third term.
Poliquin generally avoided talk of Trump during his last two campaigns, refusing to endorse him publicly during the 2016 election cycle. But he has tied himself more to Trump this time around, refusing to say earlier this year whether President Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election and hammering Golden for his two votes to impeach Trump.
The former president has dominated headlines since the raid this month, which was linked to an Espionage Act investigation into Trump for having hundreds of pages of classified material in his home, according to a recently released Department of Justice affidavit.
Poliquin condemned the raid two days after it occurred, calling it “shocking” to see federal law enforcement under President Joe Biden raiding the house of a political rival. He also criticized federal authorities for not releasing more information about why it had occurred.
“If the voters of Maine send me back to Congress, I will push for an investigation into what is really happening here,” Poliquin said. “We clearly need change in Washington.”
More information, including the affidavit, has been gleaned since then. After a discussion with Bangor Rotary Club members on Tuesday, he disputed that he had called for an investigation and said his previous statement meant “everybody should be mindful of the law” and that Trump and the Justice Department should work out disputes over documents.
“I am concerned about everybody in this country obeying the law,” Poliquin said when asked if he was concerned about Trump holding classified documents at his home.
In Bangor, Poliquin instead highlighted the primary issues at the center of his campaign: reducing inflation, lowering energy costs and securing the southern border. He did not mention Trump by name during his presentation to club members, although the introduction included how Trump appointed Poliquin to chair a federal board in 2019.
Golden, has condemned politicians from both sides for commenting too early on the Trump investigation, but said earlier this month that the former president “clearly” shouldn’t have had classified documents in his home. Independent Tiffany Bond, who is also running in the ranked-choice voting race, called Trump’s actions “deeply inappropriate” earlier this month.
Former Gov. Paul LePage, who was an early Trump backer in 2016 and chaired his Maine campaign four years later, is the Maine Republican most identified with the former president. He compared America to a “banana republic” after the FBI raid while running against Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, in the November election.
Poliquin had trouble ginning up the Republican base during his 2018 run, according to a party memo from that year. That and the conservative-leaning district he is running in may explain his increased identification with the former president this time.