Maine’s liberal Members of Congress are either keeping quiet, pointing at former President Donald Trump, or defending President Joe Biden after the Commander-in-Chief delivered a confusing and widely-panned press conference Thursday evening.
The presser came in response to a Department of Justice report that said the Special Counsel investigating Biden’s mishandling of classified documents would not seek charges — but only because Biden’s memory was too poor for him to stand trial.
Special Counsel Robert Hur, who was leading a probe into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified materials, released a 388-page report Thursday finding that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed” classified documents after his vice presidency, but that no criminal charges are warranted.
In explaining his decision not to recommend charges against the sitting president, Hur said that Biden presented himself in his interview as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
The Special Counsel report details instances of Biden having serious lapses in memory, including “struggling to remember events and straining at times to read and relay his own notebook entries,” and not being able to remember when he was vice president and when his son Beau died.
Hur speculated that it would be difficult to convince a jury to convict Biden due to the felony statute requiring a “mental state of willfulness.”
Following the release of Hur’s report, President Biden gave a press conference Thursday evening to respond to the allegations in the report regarding his memory.
Biden explained away the Special Counsel’s account of his apparent mental incapacity by pointing to the date of his interview with Hur being in the days following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.
The president angrily condemned Hur’s report for noting that he struggled to remember when his son died.
“How in the hell dare he raise that,” Biden said. “Frankly, when I was asked the question I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business … I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away.”
The 81-year-old president did not inspire confidence in his memory later in the Thursday press conference, however, when he referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the president of Mexico.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins told the Maine Wire Friday that the Special Counsel report “raises important questions.”
“I encourage people to look at it themselves and draw their own conclusions,” Collins said. “It’s up to the Democrats to decide whom they want their nominee to be. And, ultimately, all of this will be in the hands of the voters.”
Maine Sen. Angus King (I) has remained silent on the Special Counsel report and Biden’s press conference.
Neither he nor Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-01) responded to requests for comment from the Maine Wire.
State Rep. Austin Theriault (R-Fort Kent), one of two 2024 Republican challengers to Democratic Congressman Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd District, quickly responded to Biden’s press conference by demanding to know if Golden still supported Biden for president.
Theriault also released a statement Thursday evening insisting that Golden join him in calling for President Biden’s resignation.
“This is a very somber, serious moment for our country. We can’t have a president that’s so mentally limited that they can’t even stand trial,” Theriault said.
“In this case, it’s not a question of age — there are plenty of sharp people who are older than Biden — it’s a question of capability,” he continued. “This is a dangerous world, and a person who can start a nuclear war should not be in the mental state described by the Biden Department of Justice.”
“This is a time for bipartisan action: Jared Golden should join me in calling for Biden’s resignation,” Theriault concluded.
The Maine GOP capitalized on Biden’s bad press in a Friday fundraising email, writing that “Joe Biden’s mental incompetency was made clear to the world TWICE yesterday.”
“First, a Special Counsel working for the Biden Department of Justice found that Joe Biden is so mentally incompetent that he couldn’t even stand trial,” the email stated. “Then Biden gave an stumbling, bumbling, feeble address to the nation that proved the Special Counsel right without a doubt.”
The Special Counsel report and Biden’s surprise presser also drew attacks from national Republicans.
National Republican Congressional Caucus (NRCC) spokesperson Savannah Viar released a statement Friday morning declaring that “Mainers deserve immediate answers from Golden on Biden’s mental state.”
“Nothing could be more dangerous than a president going senile, yet that is exactly who House Democrats including Jared Golden are backing,” Viar said.
Golden did not respond to a request for comment from the Maine Wire, though he provided a comment to the Bangor newspaper that was characterized as drawing an equivalency between former President Trump and Biden.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) posted to X Thursday that Biden’s press conference “confirmed on live television what the Special Counsel report outlined.”
“He is not fit to be president,” Johnson wrote.
At the conclusion of a gun violence prevention event at the White House Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris slammed Hur’s report as “politically motivated” and “gratuitous.”
Harris took a similar tact to President Biden by explaining the president’s reported mental incapacity during the two-day interview with Hur by noting it occurred directly after Hamas’ attack on Israel.
“It was an intense moment for the commander in chief of the United States of America,” Harris said.
The vice president added that “the way that the president’s demeanor in that report was characterized could not be more wrong on the facts and clearly politically motivated, gratuitous.”
New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler released a statement Thursday afternoon in defense of Biden, saying “MAGA Republicans will no doubt now call to investigate the investigators–it’s their favorite move–but the Hur report effectively ends the discussion.”
“President Biden cooperated fully with the Special Counsel and redacted no portion of the Special Counsel’s report,” Nadler said. “Unlike Trump, President Biden has nothing to hide.”
Nadler contrasted the Department of Justice’s probe into Trump’s handling of classified documents with that of Biden’s, saying “If Trump had cooperated with the [DOJ]– instead of lying to investigators, again and again–he might have avoided at least some of the 91 criminal charges currently pending against him.”