Maine's two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, both Democrats, are taking slightly different positions on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
First District Rep. Chellie Pingree says she supports impeachment. Second District Rep. Jared Golden says he supports an inquiry, but has not yet decided whether he would vote to impeach.
Maine Public Radio's senior political reporter Mal Leary spoke with Golden about his take on the president’s controversial phone conversation with the president of Ukraine that launched the impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House last week.
Leary: You’ve read the transcript of the president’s conversation with the president of Ukraine and you’ve looked at the whistleblower report. What is most troubling to you?
Golden: At first read, there’s nothing about the conversation that I am comfortable with. I think that the bottom line is that every elected official in America — the President of the United States, our political leaders — I think that every American should be able to come out of this united in the belief that Americans need to reject foreign involvement in American elections. I think that’s the most important precedent that needs to be set here. It shouldn’t be necessary, in my opinion, to have to drive home that point, but that is what we need to make clear, not only to everyone living in this country, but everyone beyond our borders who is a friend or foe. We don’t welcome and we reject foreign involvement in American elections.
How comfortable are you with the process that’s unfolding now?
People need to keep in mind that a whistleblower from the intelligence community has come forward with these allegations. The ICIG looked into them. This is a nonpartisan individual whose job it is to look into these types of allegations and establish whether or not they are credible. He has said he believes them to be credible and urgent, and has forwarded that whistleblower’s complaint on to the acting director of national intelligence, who I think also takes this very seriously. At the end of the day, this has triggered this situation, and I think Congress has a clear obligation at this point to pursue every piece of information that they’re able to get their hands on. The subpoenas that have come forward, the request for State Department individuals and others to come in for depositions are all driven by the substance of the whistleblower’s complaint. And I think that is the right approach.
Shouldn’t the committees that are looking into this impeachment inquiry look at this information on the Australian Prime Minister and look at that too? Because supposedly there is a transcript hidden away in that second secure filing system in the White House that has exactly what was in that conversation.
Right now, the committees of jurisdiction — the Intelligence Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Oversight Committee — are all issuing subpoenas and requesting individuals come into testify before Congress. I think that they’ve laid out a clear process and they need to stay focused on that and what they learn from those interviews, from the documents that they’re able to obtain through subpoenas, I think that they will use those to pursue other angles in search of the facts. That may very well lead us to talking about other phone calls or other things that have taken place. You brought up the issue of the storage of politically sensitive information in a code worded database that is in existence for secure national security intelligence issues, not politically sensitive information but national security sensitive information and abuse of that record system, and that’s another issue as well.
Some of your critics are saying you’re taking this position because of the closeness of the election in Maine’s 2nd District, and the fact that Trump took the 2nd District at the same time, how do you respond to that because it’s out there?
Nothing can be further from the truth. You know me, most of my constituents know me, people that know me know that I am deeply committed to this country. I have a record of service to this country. I love America. I love the state of Maine. I am 100% committed to this process, committed to finding the facts, getting the truth out to the American people. At the end of the day, I’m going to make decisions that are 100% driven by what I find to be provable, factual and, in my heart and in my soul, what I believe is in the best interest of the United States of America. It’s got nothing to do with politics, with elections, with preserving my seat or anything like that. That is what people should be demanding of every member of Congress, that this isn’t about the next election, it’s not about the past election, it’s about what is in the best interest of the United States of America, regardless of what your party wants you to do, regardless of what the other party wants you to do. This is 100% about our country for me, and that’s the commitment that I’m making to my constituents: I’m going to preserve my ability to seek the truth, follow the process and, at the end of the day, make the best judgment call that I can.