Members of Maine’s congressional delegation had mixed reactions Monday to the indictments of three former Trump campaign officials stemming from an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the U.S. elections.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said the charges against President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and two others underscored the need for an independent investigation.

“A special prosecutor and congressional inquiries have revealed criminal actions by Trump’s advisers, but preserving democracy requires full transparency,” Pingree, an outspoken Trump opponent during the campaign and since, said in a statement. “After Michael Flynn resigned in February, I called for an outside, independent investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election. We should not be in a position where President Trump can undermine those charged with uncovering the truth about Russian interference in our elections.”

But the office of Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, was more willing to wait for the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as separate investigations by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, to play out.

“It is important this work remains bipartisan to ensure the American people have confidence in any conclusion,” Poliquin spokesman Brendan Conley said in a statement. “Any indictments could be concerning, but we must let the court process work as it relates to their specific findings. Right now these matters remain in the purview of the committees of jurisdiction and the courts.”

Mueller charged Manafort as well as former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with conspiracy against the United States, conspiring to launder money and making false statements. The charges stem from the pair’s political work in Ukraine, much of it before they began working on the Trump campaign.


A third campaign official, former adviser George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians during the campaign. Papadopoulos had attempted to connect the Trump campaign with well-connected Russians who claimed to have political dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, said it was too early to say what impact the indictments will have on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation. Maine’s senators, Collins and independent Sen. Angus King, hold two of the committee’s 15 seats.

“We don’t know what else the special counsel is going to come up with,” Collins said during a roundtable with Bloomberg reporters and editors. As for Papadopoulos’ role or influence in the Trump campaign, Collins said it was “very difficult to tell whether he was sort of a wannabe type who was a volunteer … or whether he played a more important role. I don’t think we know that yet.”

King did not issue any public statements about the indictments but a spokesman said Monday night that “Sen. King doesn’t think today’s news will affect the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

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Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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