Political Brew Appearance – Feb 18, 2024

It was another busy week in politics in Maine and across the country. From an FBI informant facing charges for allegedly falsifying information about the Bidens to fishing gear regulations, our analysts shared their take.

Hunter Biden case informant charged

A former FBI informant has been charged for allegedly fabricating information regarding a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and a Ukrainian energy company. Prosecutors say Alexander Smirnoff falsely claimed executives associated with Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million ahead of the 2016 election. Smirnoff has not entered a plea.

ZACH:  “Garrett, this is key to the Republican impeachment inquiry. Will this have an impact?”

GARRETT: “I’m not sure it’s key. I mean, there’s all kinds of other things, including canceled checks and bank records and other items that the impeachment inquiry was built on. So, I mean, obviously, you shouldn’t lie to federal you know, to the FBI. He did not enter a plea. So we’ll see what happens when the case shakes out. But I mean, there’s a lot more to the impeachment inquiry than just this.”

KEN: “Can I disagree? This whole case was based upon this one informant who’s now an accused liar. You can’t build your house on one witness whose credibility means everything to you in court. And by the way, why they were doing this is crazy, too. You don’t go after a president by going after his son. No evidence that Joe Biden had any correlation with this at all.”

State police testifies on Lewiston shootings

Maine State Police testified this week before the commission investigating the Lewiston shootings. Officers shared a lot of new information about the chaos around the response and the subsequent manhunt for the shooter. We also learned the assault weapon used was purchased from a small shop in the town of Poland in July, just days before the army ordered the gunman to go to a psychiatric hospital in New York.

KEN: “I don’t think the criticism of the ‘what happened’ after the shootings; I don’t think that is legitimate criticism. But beforehand, you go back to the Army and I’m glad the Army’s going to be suspended in here because their failures were huge. And the failure of the state police to follow up and see this person face to face and to trust the family that they’re taking care of it. There was a complete collapse of responsibility. We have a yellow flag law. I’d like a red flag law, but even the yellow flag law could have worked had they done it correctly. So complete failure and tragic loss, and I really think it could have been avoided.”

GARRETT: “I agree completely with Ken that this was an abject failure on so many parts. I am glad the Army is going to come in and testify. I think that’s very important. I also think that when you tell a family member, you just heard these officers saying this is a huge deal, and you basically say to the family, you deal with it. That’s not the yellow flag law. The yellow flag was being used daily. Now. There is a way to implement it and it wasn’t followed. So I agree with Ken. Huge failures all around. Follow the laws on the books.”

Dead whale entangled in Maine fishing gear

Federal officials say a rope that was found entangled around the tail of a right whale that died near Martha’s Vineyard is consistent with fishing gear used here in Maine. That whale was found dead in January. Members of Maine’s lobster industry say they want to be involved in discussions while the whale’s death is still under investigation.

ZACH: “The Maine Department of Marine Resources even says it is likely that this is, in fact, Maine fishing gear. What does this mean in the fight for federal regulations, Garrett?”

GARRETT: “Yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, the environmentalist groups finally got what they wanted. Proof that a right whale died from Maine fishing line. They’ve been trying to pin this on Maine fishermen for years and years and years. Maine fishermen have tried to comply and be reasonable with some of their you know, with some of the new regulations coming out. But, you know, this is something that Maine fishermen are going to now have to deal with. Bottom line is, it’s difficult it’s very difficult. Maine is known for lobster. It has that huge industry that has been under attack for a right whale death incident…it is going to cause some problems so it will be interesting to watch for sure.”

KEN: “Gear has been involved in 80% of all the whale killings and we can’t pin it on. When I say we, I’m not investigating this, but just Maine lobster fishermen. But logic dictates it is. And this is, look, if we were anywhere but Maine, we would accuse us of being protectionism, okay? Because we were protecting our own economy and our own industry. And I understand that. And I think the government should step up the federal government and fund lobstermen in replacing what they need to replace to make it safer for whales. There are 70 female right whales in existence today, 73 to 50 total. There’s an extinct creature. Now you’ve got to decide what’s more important.”