A spokesperson for Susan Collins said, reiterating a past line on Donald Trump, Republicans “would be better served by a number of our other candidates.”
E. Jean Carroll, center, walks out of Manhattan federal court Tuesday in New York. A jury has found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing the advice columnist in 1996, awarding her $5 million in a judgment that could haunt the former president as he campaigns to regain the White House. Credit: John Minchillo / AP

Reactions from Maine’s congressional delegation were mostly restrained after a New York City jury found former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming a writer in a $5 million civil judgment issued Tuesday.

The verdict was yet another example added to the unprecedented list of legal hurdles facing the former president as he remains the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination to square off with President Joe Biden in a 2024 rematch.

Only two members of Maine’s delegation reacted to the verdict on Wednesday. A spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, reiterated a version of the senator’s past line on Trump: That her party “would be better served by a number of our other candidates.”

“It’s truly hypocritical for Republicans to embrace Donald Trump while they lecture Americans about ‘family values’, ban books, meddle in teen sports programs, and force women to become parents against their will,” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, said.

A spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said his boss had no reaction to the news. The office of U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the 2nd District, which he split with Trump in 2020, did not respond to a request for comment.

The civil case decided on Tuesday dates back to a 1996 claim from advice columnist E. Jean Carroll that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a luxury department store. A jury rejected the rape claim, but it said Trump was liable for sexual abuse.

Juries in civil trials must decide whether allegations are likely to be true, below the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal trials. Trump did not attend the trial and maintains he has never met Carroll. Two of her friends testified Carroll told them of the assault shortly after she said it happened. Trump’s lawyers said the allegations are far-fetched. He vowed an appeal.

Trump became the first former president to ever face criminal charges when a New York grand jury indicted him in March on charges that he falsified business records related to a payment intended to silence claims of an extramarital affair during the 2016 campaign. He has denied committing any crime, calling the prosecution a witch hunt.

That is not all for Trump: A prosecutor in Georgia has said she will decide late this summer about whether to bring charges against Trump for meddling in the 2020 election there, and The New York Times reported recently that federal prosecutors are intensifying their investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents.

He remains well within striking distance of being the next president, leading Biden, a Democrat, in three of the last six national polls compiled by RealClearPolitics. The other Republicans to join the race so far have struggled to gain momentum, though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the most formidable potential Trump primary challenger, has not joined the field yet.

The reaction from Republican members of Congress tilted toward Trump on Tuesday, with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida saying the jury and verdict were “a joke.” But some of them indicated pause, including U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who voted alongside six other Republicans including Collins to convict Trump in 2021 on a Democratic impeachment charge.

“Of course it creates concern,” he said, according to CNN. “How could it not create concern?”

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...