Good morning from Augusta. There are eight days until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “My first thought was that the Iranians had followed through on their threat to strike the Capitol, but a police officer took over the podium and explained that violent demonstrators had breached the entire perimeter of the Capitol and were inside,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said, recounting her experience on Jan. 6 when a mob stormed the Capitol building.
What we’re watching today
Impeachment is registering differently within Maine’s delegation after the Capitol insurrection than it did when the president was impeached almost exactly a year ago. House Democrats are poised to vote on one article of impeachment on Wednesday, setting up a new debate in the final days of President Donald Trump’s term. The outgoing president will take his first official trip since the riot that led to his personal accounts being removed from social media platforms. He will visit Alamo, Texas, to highlight border policy.
U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the 2nd District, came out in favor of impeachment Monday night, citing Trump’s false statements that he won the election and encouragement of rioters as they stormed the Capitol. Golden, a Marine veteran who represents a district Trump won twice, broke with his party last time in voting for only one of two impeachment articles.
This time, the sophomore representative said he would vote for impeachment “without reservation,” adding he “[did] not believe there has ever been a clearer case for the immediate impeachment of a president.” He joined U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, who said she would support impeachment last week.
With Trump’s impeachment in the House all but certain, eyes turn to the Senate, where Maine’s two senators have been more coy. U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and voted in favor of removing Trump from office last February, has not come down either way on the issue, though he has so far suggested the president’s Cabinet should consider removing him under the 25th Amendment.
Collins, a Republican who voted to acquit Trump last time, has also declined to say how she would come down on impeachment, citing her role as a potential juror in the Senate trial, but she provided a glimpse into her thinking in an OpEd for the Bangor Daily News yesterday. Though mostly a narrative accounting her experience last Wednesday, Collins called out Trump sharply, saying he “incited” the rioters “in the first place.”
She added that it was important for Congress to finish its work once the building was cleared because “let these thugs succeed in their attempt to disrupt the constitutional process and undermine our democracy.”
The Maine Republican, who said last year that removing a president via impeachment required reaching an “extremely high bar,” is unlikely to come down definitively until a vote in the Senate is near. But her suggestion that Trump bore responsibility for rioters attempting to undermine democracy sounds like the kind of rhetoric one could use to justify removing a president.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine orders Walgreens to give up vaccine doses it had no immediate plans to use,” Eesha Pendharkar, Bangor Daily News: “Walgreens ‘did in fact have doses on hand, and they could not tell us when they indicated that they would put them into arms. That didn’t work for me,’ [Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav] Shah said. ‘That’s a tough call to make, but I am prepared, and we’ll continue to do that if we don’t see that pace increase going forward.’”
Maine continues to inoculate people at a quicker pace than most of the country. According to Bloomberg News’ tracker, the state has given out 4.15 doses per 100 people; only four other states had given out more.
— “FBI cites no evidence of armed protests in Maine before Joe Biden’s inauguration,” The Associated Press: “The state has still increased security in and around the State House, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Katharine England. Chief Russell Gauvin of the Capitol Police said no event permits had been requested on state-owned property in Augusta for the next 10 days.”
— “After years of political wrangling, Bangor psychiatric facility will finally open,” David Marino Jr., BDN: “The single-story building ended up in Bangor as former Gov. Paul LePage’s administration maneuvered to build a facility to relieve pressure on Riverview without securing state legislative approval. Ultimately, the state sold a 2.69-acre parcel on the Dorothea Dix campus to a Hermon development company, which oversaw construction and is now leasing the facility back to the state for 30 years at a cost of $11.3 million.”
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper. 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.
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