Maine’s Jared Golden will vote against impeaching Trump for obstruction

In split decision, freshman says he will vote that president abused his power

Freshman Rep. Jared Golden of Maine said he will split his vote on two articles of impeachment before the House this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Freshman Rep. Jared Golden of Maine said he will split his vote on two articles of impeachment before the House this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted December 17, 2019 at 5:24pm

Maine Rep. Jared Golden, a freshman Democrat from a district President Donald Trump carried in 2016, is voting for one article of impeachment, but not the other, breaking with nearly every other member of his caucus.

Golden said he would vote for the first article, which accuses the president of abuse of power, but not the second, which alleges that he obstructed Congress.

“The House investigation clearly unearthed a pattern of evidence that demonstrates the corrupt intent on the part of the president, his personal lawyer, and members of his administration to leverage the powers of the presidency to damage a political opponent and strengthen the president’s reelection prospects,” Golden said in a statement explaining his vote for the first article of impeachment.

“Given that the sought-after investigation was solicited from a foreign government, the president’s actions are a realization of the Framers’ greatest fears: foreign corruption of our electoral process, and a president willing to leverage the powers of his office to benefit his own reelection. This action crossed a clear red line, and in my view, there is no doubt that this is an impeachable act,” Golden added. 

But when it comes to Trump obstructing Congress, the Marine veteran put the onus on his peers to exhaust other avenues — specifically the courts — first.

“If the president were to defy a court order to produce documents or to give testimony in an impeachment inquiry, or if he were to encourage his subordinates to do the same, then a charge of obstruction would be appropriate,” Golden said.

“But while the president’s resistance toward our investigative efforts has been frustrating, it has not yet, in my view, reached the threshold of ‘high crime or misdemeanor’ that the Constitution demands,” he said.

Trump carried Maine’s 2nd District by 11 points in 2016, which earned him one electoral vote since Maine splits its electoral college votes. Trump’s reelection campaign has argued that Democrats risk the voters’ wrath if they vote for impeachment, but the vast majority of the 31 Democrats who represent districts Trump won in 2016 have said they will support both articles of impeachment. They include several in districts Trump carried by double digits.

These Democrats have made similar arguments for their decisions: That Trump abused his power for personal political gain and put national security at risk in the process, and that failing to impeach the president would set a dangerous precedent for future administrations. But they also argued that Trump’s obstruction of the impeachment inquiry was unprecedented.

Just two Democrats — Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey — have indicated they will oppose impeachment. Van Drew is expected to change parties and become a Republican. 

Golden, the former state House Assistant Majority Leader, wiped out the last New England Republican in the House by unseating Bruce Poliquin in the nation’s first use of ranked-choice voting.

A former committee staffer to GOP Sen. Susan Collins, Golden has bucked his party before. Along with Peterson, he was one of just two Democrats who voted against expanded background check legislation in the House earlier this year. Golden has voted with his party 87.2 percent of the time, according to CQ Vote Watch, compared with a 97.8 percent average for others in his party

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for Maine’s 2nd District Tilt Democratic.

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.