President Joe Biden listens as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, in Washington. Credit: Evan Vucci / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — Three out of four members of Maine’s congressional delegation said Friday they back a new investigation into confidential documents found in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and a Washington office.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the situation around what Biden’s lawyer called “a small number” of documents that were reported to the Justice Department when they were found in a recent review.

The response from Maine’s delegation and fellow Democrats underscored what is at best a distraction for Biden as former President Donald Trump faces a special counsel of his own and is under federal investigation for his handling of classified documents and other potential transgressions as the Republican maps out a potential run against Biden in 2024.

There are major differences between the two cases. Most notably, there is no suggestion that Biden purposefully tried to prevent the documents discovered at his home or office from being turned over or that he was even aware of their presence. Trump also had far more documents.

Maine’s two senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose chair has called for a briefing on the documents. In a Friday statement, Collins said the panel has sent a letter to the Biden administration requesting the documents and a briefing on their effect on U.S. intelligence.

“I hope this request will be granted expeditiously, and I will be able to review the requested documents and analysis in a classified setting,” she said.

Collins said the special counsel’s appointment was necessary to ensure the Justice Department’s review is credible. A King spokesperson said the senator “supports the well-established rules for securing and accessing classified documents to protect our national interests, and believes that there should be no exceptions to these procedures.”

Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine’s conservative-leaning 2nd District, said in a statement that neither Trump nor Biden should have confidential documents in their possession outside of proper channels, but he urged caution in interpreting the early findings.

“Politicians in both parties need to take a step and allow for ongoing investigations to be completed before making politicized assertions,” he said.

The office of Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, did not respond to a Friday request for comment.

Democrats have generally lined up in favor of Garland’s move. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York was one of them, though he said it’s “way to early” to say if Biden or anyone else broke any laws. He also distinguish this case from Trump’s, saying the former president “stalled” and “stonewalled.”

“We don’t have to push them in any direction,” he told CNN. “Let the special prosecutors do their jobs.”

In Trump’s case, roughly 300 records with classification markings were recovered from Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida that hosts constant events. That came after months of back-and-forth between the government and Trump’s representatives, who repeatedly resisted efforts to return the missing documents.

The Justice Department says classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room as part of what they allege was an effort to obstruct the federal investigation. A warrant for the search showed the FBI was investigating crimes including the willful retention of national defense information and efforts to obstruct the federal probe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...