This story was written by Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald, Maine (TNS)
Jan. 6 — Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree said Wednesday that it was difficult to imagine the mob siege on the U.S. Capitol happening in the United States and accused President Trump of “inciting a riot.” Pingree, D-District 1, said that because of pandemic-related capacity limits on the floor of the House of Representatives, she was not in the chamber when pro-Trump rioters broke through security and stormed into the Capitol. Speaking from a location outside of the Capitol complex Wednesday afternoon, Pingree struggled for words to describe the events, adding, “It’s hard to imagine that we are in the United States.”
“This doesn’t happen,” Pingree said in a phone interview. “It’s America. We are a peaceful country. I can’t even imagine what this looks likes outside of the country.”
Spokesmen for Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins as well as Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, D-District 2, issued statements saying both members and their staff were safe. Representatives for U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent, did not immediately respond to Press Herald requests, but Fox Bangor/ABC 7 reported that a spokesperson said King was in a “locked, quiet location on Capitol Hill.”
Pingree laid blame for the rioting and mob chaos squarely at Trump’s feet.
“I listened to the president’s remarks this morning at the rally and he very clearly said, ‘I am not accepting this, I want you to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue'” to the Capitol building, Pingree said in reference to Trump’s remarks to supporters gathered outside the White House. “This is the president of the United States not accepting the peaceful of transfer of power and inciting a riot.” Pingree said that all of her staff were safe and accounted for on Wednesday afternoon. Capitol police were still trying to safely evacuate all other members of Congress and their staffs while clearing the Capitol building of rioters.
The Democrat, who is a vocal supporter of President-elect Joe Biden, said it was still unclear how and when the Electoral College process will resume. She was also unsure how Congress might respond to Trump, noting that a proposed resolution of censure over the president’s attempt last week to pressure Georgia state officials to “find” votes for him seemed mild by comparison. “More than everything else, we need to get to January 20,” Pingree said.
Collins’ chief of staff, Steve Abbott, said Collins and her staff were out of harm’s way.
“All are safe,” said Abbott, who was in Maine but in constant contact with staff in DC. “They report that it has been as extraordinary as you would imagine and that the television pictures are accurately conveying the scene. We are not divulging their location but they are all safe and accounted for and prepared to help the Congress carry out its Constitutional duty. We truly appreciate the many calls and messages that we have received concerned about our well being.”
Nick Zeller, spokesman for Golden, also thanked Mainers for the inquiries about the congressman and his staff.
“Congressman Golden and his staff in Washington are all safe and accounted for,” Zeller tweeted Wednesday evening.
Reaction to the unprecedented events in Washington began to flow in from other political figures or parties in Maine.
Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, condemned the violence and destruction at the U.S. Capitol.
“Our country has conducted a free and a fair election in which the American people have spoken, and now the peaceful transfer of power — a hallmark of our democracy — must proceed,” Mills said in a statement. “I do not believe what we are seeing today is sanctioned by most Americans; nor do I believe it represents the true character of the American people. But it is a clear and troubling reflection of our fractured nation.”
“The violence must end, and all leaders, of every political stripe, including the President, must forcefully denounce these actions and defend our democracy,” Mills said. “All Americans, regardless of politics, must work to restore the honor, decency, and integrity that is truly reflective of the character of our people and our country.” The Maine Republican Party, also called the rioting “unacceptable.”‘
“We believe in peaceful protest,” the Maine Republican Party said in a tweet. “The activity seen at the United States Capitol today is completely unacceptable and an affront to our Republican values. Republicans believe in law and order, our constitution, and our country, not rioting and violence.”
Former Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said: “It’s wrong for any American to engage in violence or property destruction, no matter the reason. What’s going on at the Capitol complex is wrong and must stop IMMEDIATELY. Violence is not constitutionally protected speech.”
All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation planned to vote against efforts by some Republicans to contest the Electoral College results from some states.
“American democracy is unique in world history, which is typically defined by dictators and despots,” King said in a Twitter post before Wednesday’s tumultuous events. “Today, I will do my part to protect our nation’s experiment in self-government by voting to certify the election results.”
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