Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington. Credit: Jose Luis Magana / AP

Good morning from Augusta. Gov. Janet Mills’ two-year budget and an immediate spending plan will be released on Friday.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s easy to confront your opponents. It’s hard to confront your friends,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said of President Donald Trump in a floor speech last night after a large mob of president’s supporters invaded the Capitol and interrupted the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. “It’s hard to tell your supporters something they don’t want to hear. But that’s our obligation.”

What we’re watching today

On a stunning day in America, members of Congress were hustled out of the Capitol as it was stormed by Trump supporters. Not since the War of 1812 has the U.S. center of government been breached like it was on Wednesday as a crowd of pro-Trump demonstrators overwhelmed police and broke into the building while Congress was going through the last part of the ceremonial process confirming Biden’s November win.

Senators — including Maine’s Susan Collins and Angus King — were on the floor listening to debate over Republican objections as part of the crowd advanced into that part of the Capitol. The chamber was locked down and members were later evacuated. Rioters took pictures at the House rostrum, looted art and upended offices. Maine’s congressional delegation checked in from secure locations and confirmed they and their staff were unharmed. 

Trump, who spoke to protesters earlier in the day in an hourlong speech in which he repeated false claims about his loss to Biden, was slow to react to the melee in which one woman was shot and killed and three others died in medical emergencies. He released a video telling supporters to “go home” but also calling them “special” and repeating the falsehood that the election was “stolen.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, and former Sen. Bill Cohen, a Republican who also served as defense secretary, said that Trump should be removed from office via the 25th Amendment. U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the 2nd District, said the president should be held “accountable.” Others, mostly Democrats but notably the National Association of Manufacturers, urged Trump’s Cabinet to consider removing him.

Collins was the only prominent Maine Republican official who faulted Trump for the mob, telling Maine Public he should give a “forceful message” denouncing violence. Other political figures weighed in throughout the day, including Republicans who were quiet about Trump’s attempts to undermine the election days before.

Collins and King delivered floor speeches standing up for the electoral process. Congress finally reconvened in the evening in a long process that led to Biden’s win being affirmed in the early morning. Notably, Republican members who had criticized Trump relatively little of late hammered him in speeches, with Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania calling him a “demagogue.” Others objecting to results pulled their objections.

King said Americans cannot “pull bricks out from the foundation of trust that underlies our entire system.” Collins avoided further mention of Trump but stood up for the process, saying Congress should not try to “usurp the roles of the voters, the states, or the Electoral College.”

The House and Senate easily turned back objections, though most House Republicans backed the ones that moved forward. Trump, meanwhile, finally acknowledged his election loss after the results were certified and promised an orderly transition of power in a statement posted to Twitter — which the president was suspended from — by a senior official. Still, the president said he “totally disagree[d] with the outcome … and the facts bear me out.” They do not.

The Maine politics top 3

— “How Maine lawmakers want to strengthen oversight of police,” Erin Rhoda, Bangor Daily News: “Specific language has not yet been drafted, but [Oxford Republican Sen. Lisa] Keim said her bill would allow county commissioners to bring complaints about sheriffs to a judge, who, after reviewing the evidence, could decide to place a sheriff on administrative leave. A judge could also direct the Maine attorney general’s office to investigate the misconduct and, based on the findings, prepare a complaint on behalf of county commissioners to submit to the governor’s office. The decision about whether to remove a sheriff would still be up to the governor.”

Several of the bills were prompted after the Bangor Daily News investigated how county law enforcement escape accountability. You can read “Lawmen Off Limits” here.

— “Small businesses have new options for pandemic relief under new stimulus bill,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “Key changes to the program this time around aim to make it more helpful and easier for small businesses, Diane Sturgeon, deputy director of the Small Business Administration for Maine, said Wednesday on a monthly teleconference call hosted by Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson. The Small Business Administration administers the paycheck protection and other pandemic relief loan and grant programs.”

— “Students who experienced racism at Bangor High feel validated, but underwhelmed, by probe,” Eesha Pendharkar, BDN: “The independent investigation, the cost of which is on track to exceed $70,000, confirmed that students at the high school use the N-word in hallways, on school buses and online, and a dress code that does not ban clothing featuring the Confederate flag. But the probe didn’t investigate the overall culture of the high school that led to these incidents, look into whether school policies were violated or offer recommendations on steps the school department should take to address racist behavior.”

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews, Jessica Piper and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.

Michael Shepherd

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...