AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Rep. Jared Golden is still treading carefully around the subject of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump stemming from a whistleblower’s complaint, saying the issues are “too serious to be cheered, rushed or dismissed out of hand.”
The freshman Democrat representing Maine’s 2nd District has faced increasing attention as one of the dozen Democrats in the House who have not voiced support for the impeachment inquiry announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this week. According to CNN, those holdouts share some of Golden’s characteristics — most of them won in districts that went to Trump in 2016.
Their reasons include not wanting to further partisan divides (Max Rose, D-New York), needing to know all the facts before making a decision (Ben Adams, D-Utah), not wanting to get ahead of the process (Joe Cunningham, D-South Carolina) and not wanting to go down the impeachment route at all (Jeff Van Drew, D-New Jersey).
Golden’s reasoning has been a mix of those — he called the whistleblower credible in his statement but said the issue is too serious for a rush to judgment. He had called for the complaint to be released earlier this week.
“These issues are some of the most consequential that can come before a Member of Congress,” he said in a statement his office released Friday afternoon. “I owe it to my constituents to treat the whistleblower complaint and the allegations it contains with the gravity and sober judgment they deserve.”
Golden said he will have more to say on the issue in the coming days as he weighs the information.
Pelosi called for the impeachment inquiry process to begin Tuesday, the week after a whistleblower complaint concerning whether Trump encouraged Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden emerged. The complaint was withheld by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from Congress until the middle of this week. A redacted version of the complaint was released Thursday.
The complaint alleged Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into whether Biden abused his power while in office by pressuring the government into firing a prosecutor in 2014 while his son Hunter was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. The week before the call, Trump ordered almost $400 million in military aid to be held back from Ukraine.
Maine’s delegation has been measured on the subject. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has met behind closed doors with Maguire and the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson.
While neither can comment on the meeting, both senators said there is room for further investigation.
“There are obviously a lot of questions, and I personally believe that the IG [inspector general] does have the legal authority to proceed under the law, to investigate,” Collins said in a Thursday evening statement. “There is some ambiguity, and I recognize that the office of legal counsel has reached a different conclusion but I believe that the IG’s legal analysis is correct.”
King called the matter a “serious concern” on Thursday. “After reading the abridged summary of the Ukraine phone call released by the White House and the whistleblower complaint, it is clear to me that this is a matter of serious concern,” he said in a statement released by his office. “That is why the House must conduct a thorough and transparent inquiry to collect all evidence, free of interference from any of the Administration officials who may have been involved — including Attorney General Bill Barr, who should recuse himself from this process.”
Chellie Pingree, the Democrat representing Maine’s 1st District, has been supportive of an impeachment inquiry since May. She said the House has “no choice” except to begin an inquiry.
“The whistleblower’s complaint makes clear that President Trump turned our foreign policy into a tool to benefit and protect himself,” she said in a statement.