Three of the four members of Maine’s congressional delegation cautiously responded on Friday to former President Donald Trump’s indictment on federal charges related to mishandling confidential records, with only one offering new and specific criticism.
That was U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, an outspoken Democrat from the 1st District who said it would be an understatement to say the U.S. is in “uncharted waters” after the first-ever federal indictment of a former president who faces other legal challenges but remains the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination to face President Joe Biden.
“Our legal system holding Mr. Trump to account represents an essential element to preserving our democracy,” Pingree said. “I know that Donald Trump will receive a fair trial and sincerely hope that justice will be done.”
Trump is facing 37 felony charges under an indictment that was unsealed Friday and alleges that he described and shared confidential military documents and resisted or ignored Justice Department calls to return documents he left the White House with in 2021, even telling aides to hide or not share some of them.
The former president broke the news of his own indictment on Thursday and is due Tuesday in a Miami court to answer the charges. He faces prison time if found guilty. The case also carries stark political implications, putting Biden’s Justice Department in the middle of the 2024 campaign despite the case being handled by a special counsel to insulate the administration.
The three members of Maine’s congressional delegation — besides Pingree — did not address the facts of Trump’s case in Friday statements, including Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who has ruled out supporting the former president in the primary and voted to convict him on a Democratic impeachment charge in 2021.
“The American justice system is based on the principle that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” she said. “Former President Trump is entitled to that same presumption of innocence, as is every other American.”
Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat who represents the 2nd District, which was won twice by Trump in 2016 and 2020, also noted the presumption of innocence and said “we should let the process play out without bias or political interference.”
“Today’s announcement is the very beginning of the justice process,” Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said. “While this case is unusual, the underlying principles of equal justice under the law and innocence until proven guilty are not.”
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed again late Thursday that he was innocent. But Jack Smith, the special counsel, urged the public to read the indictment and said he was aiming for a speedy trial.
“Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.