Republicans torn over Trump, again

Republicans torn over Trump, again

TRUMPACHUSETTS — Donald Trump’s indictment is uncharted territory for a former president. But it’s fueling familiar divides among Massachusetts Republicans.

Trump backers are rushing to his defense, decrying the indictment over his alleged role in a hush-money payment to a porn actress during the 2016 presidential campaign as part of a “witch hunt” against him.

“Democrats are going down a very dangerous path,” former MassGOP Chair Jim Lyons told Playbook. “The party in power is politicizing the legal system, trying to hunt down a leading figure of an out-of-power party. It’s amazing. I think it’s a real, grave danger to our republic.”

Others are staking out middle ground — trying to strike a balance between playing to the party’s grassroots and acknowledging the potential criminality of the former president’s actions.

“This seems politically motivated by a district attorney who, frankly, should be more concerned with crime in New York City than prosecuting a former president,” MassGOP Chair Amy Carnevale told Playbook.

But Carnevale said any political undertones should not “excuse any bad behavior that took place.” She also declined to say whether Trump should drop out of the presidential race, calling it a “decision that he should make on his own.” (Trump can continue his campaign while facing criminal charges — or even if he’s in jail).

Then there are Republicans like Anthony Amore, the party’s last auditor nominee, who told Playbook: “Nobody’s guilty until proven guilty in a court of law. But … I haven’t seen anything to prove it’s politically motivated.”

Republicans are showing some unity, however, in their calls to keep the peace amid concerns of a Jan. 6, 2021, redux. Both Carnevale and Lyons last night urged Trump supporters not to resort to violence. “President Trump will be vindicated,” Lyons, who has faced investigations over potential campaign-finance violations, predicted. “We have to be peaceful in speaking out about how outrageous this is.”

Democrats are in array on this one. House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark and Reps. Jim McGovern and Lori Trahan were among those issuing statements last night with the same basic message: no one is above the law and don’t interfere with the proceedings.

GOOD FRIDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. One person who’s yet to publicly weigh in on Trump’s indictment: the guy he endorsed in the governor’s race, Geoff Diehl.

TODAY — Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll speaks at student government day at 9:30 a.m. at the State House, attends the Wonderfund Period Party at 10:45 a.m. at Big Night Live and attends WooSox Opening Day at 3 p.m. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu visits Mildred Avenue K-8 School at noon, speaks at a South Boston Neighborhood House fundraiser at 6:40 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel, and speaks at a Mayor’s Office of Women Advancement reception at 7:30 p.m. at the Park Plaza.

Rep. Jim McGovern visits Uxbridge High at 10:30 a.m., Eskar Dispensary at noon and WooSox Opening Day. Rep. Richard Neal announces federal funding at 1 p.m. at Westfield State.

THIS WEEKEND — Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman is on WBZ’s “Keller @ Large” at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Auditor Diana DiZoglio is on WCVB’s “On the Record” at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Tips? Scoops? Reactions to Trump’s indictment? Email me: [email protected].

“At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Camp Is Caught Off Guard,” by Maggie Haberman, The New York Times.

“Team Trump preps for a post-indictment frenzy,” by Alex Isenstadt and Meridith McGraw, POLITICO.

“Liberal Manhattan DA takes on Trump in perilous legal fight,” by Erica Orden, POLITICO.

“Republican rivals, leaders rally around Donald Trump after indictment,” by Michael Scherer, The Washington Post.

— REGIONAL REACTION: New Hampshire GOP Chair Chris Ager decried the indictment as “an attack by Democrats on the rule of law and a disturbing weaponization of the Justice system against [President Joe] Biden’s enemies.”

Asked by POLITICO last week whether Trump should bow out of the 2024 presidential race if indicted, GOP Gov. Chris Sununu said “he won’t drop out … he’s just not.”

“Boston’s COVID data continues to fall, Massachusetts virus cases and hospitalizations trending down,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health reported 2,023 virus cases over the last week. The daily average of 289 COVID cases from the last week was a dip from the daily rate of 297 virus infections during the previous week.”

“Healey made her pitch on taxes last month. Now it’s Speaker Mariano’s turn,” by Jon Chesto, Boston Globe: “House Speaker Ronald Mariano on Thursday committed to bringing forward a tax reform package this spring, after expressing doubts in recent months that the state could afford one. … He didn’t get into specifics in the speech [to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce], other than to say the package will contain elements that were left on the table last summer, and that several reforms will be phased in over multiple years. … This time around, Mariano isn’t ruling out a capital gains tax cut — another priority for the business community. ‘Everything’s on the table,’ Mariano told reporters when asked about that.”

“Few state tax breaks have sunset dates,” by Christian M. Wade, Eagle-Tribune: “Massachusetts has hundreds of tax breaks on the books, from refundable credits for filming movies and redeveloping vacant lots to sales tax exemptions for cement mixers and aircraft parts, bleeding tens of millions of dollars a year from the state’s coffers. And many of them may never go away. That’s because most of the state’s tax expenditures don’t have a sunset date, when they would either need to be re-authorized by the Legislature or scrapped. It’s an issue that’s come up during a review by a commission tasked with ensuring that the state and its taxpayers are getting the biggest bang for their buck.”

“17-year-olds may soon be able to vote in this Mass. community,” by Chris Van Buskirk, MassLive: “The Democratic state lawmaker for Southborough said Thursday she will support and soon file a home rule petition approved by the town last week that lowers the voting age in municipal elections from 18 to 17.”

— ENDORSEMENT WARS: State Sen. Lydia Edwards and former Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley have formally endorsed Bill MacGregor for 10th Suffolk state representative, his campaign said.

Progressive West Roxbury/Roslindale members, meanwhile, voted “overwhelmingly” to endorse Robert Orthman in that race, the group told Playbook. The JP Progressives steering committee is also now asking members of its group to back Orthman.

“Top Massachusetts court backs Boston in COVID-19 vaccine mandate fight, throws out lower ruling,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “The state’s top court has ruled in favor of the city in the battle over its COVID-19 mandate, throwing out the preliminary injunction against the Wu administration and clearing the way for future versions of such policies. Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Elspeth Cypher wrote the opinion issued Thursday, throwing out an appellate judge’s order not to enforce the vaccine-mandate policy from December 2021 — a policy under which no one’s ever been disciplined.”

“FBI arrests former Boston police officer for alleged Jan. 6 violence at U.S. Capitol,” by Hannah Reale, GBH News: “Joseph Fisher, a former Boston Police officer, was arrested in Plymouth Thursday for allegedly entering the U.S. Capitol Building during the Jan. 6 insurrection and assaulting a Capitol Police officer. … Another regional FBI office directed the Boston FBI office to Fisher because he was wearing a beanie with several Boston sports logos when he entered the Capitol building, according to court filings. His phone also was later traced to the building on the day of the riots, according to the complaint.”

“Amid multiple crises, MBTA fields pitches for new agency marketing campaign,” by Dan Atkinson, Dig Boston: “After paying a politically-connected consulting firm more than $4 million to come up with slogans like ‘Take the Orange Line. It’s high time for some lo mein,’ the MBTA is once again looking to hire a marketing firm to promote the agency and develop communications plans.”

“Marty Walsh says his relationship with Bruins owners isn’t in conflict with his NHLPA role,” by Kevin Paul Dupont, Boston Globe: “Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh conducted a 30-minute introductory press conference Thursday morning in Toronto and dismissed any notion that his duties as the new executive director of the NHL Players’ Association could be influenced by his relationship with Bruins ownership.”

“Representatives Stephen Lynch and Jim Jordan spar at hearing: ‘This is a mockery and a disgrace’,” by Shannon Larson, Boston Globe: “A hearing led by Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, briefly descended into chaos Thursday after two witnesses were dismissed without being cross-examined by the panel, leading Representative Stephen Lynch, a Democrat from Massachusetts, to spar with Jordan and call the gathering a ‘mockery and a disgrace.’”

“Berkshire Roots employees are negotiating their first contract as a unionized workforce — and the cannabis industry is paying attention,” by Amanda Burke, Berkshire Eagle: “About 25 Berkshire Roots growers and trimmers are in the process of negotiating their first-ever contract with the Pittsfield-based cannabis company. During the early months of the pandemic in 2020, the workers chose to join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Approaching three years later, the company and the union have not yet settled on contract language.”

“Mass. losing residents to other states, census data shows,” by Christian M. Wade, Eagle-Tribune: “The county-level data, released Thursday, shows that nine of the state’s 14 counties saw declines in their populations between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022 after factoring births, deaths and new residents against those leaving the state.”

“Eastern Fisheries cuts temp agency, laying off New Bedford workers amid labor probe,” by Will Sennott, New Bedford Light.

“Mass. pedestrian deaths spiked in 2022,” by Irina Matchavariani and Vanessa Ochavillo, WBUR.

“Police: Clark Grant, indicted on federal fraud charges with wife Monica Cannon-Grant, died in motorcycle crash,” by Flint McColgan, Boston Herald.

“NH Senate unanimously backs push to enshrine presidential primary in state constitution,” by Josh Rogers, NHPR: “For almost 50 years, state law has dictated that New Hampshire hold the first presidential primary in the country. But under a proposal backed unanimously by the state Senate Thursday, voters in 2024 could be asked to take it a step further and enshrine New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status in the state constitution.”

TRANSITIONS — Boston Herald reporter Sean Philip Cotter is joining the Boston Globe next month.

— David Storto is now senior health care executive adviser for Tandem Solutions. He was previous executive VP and chief strategy and growth officer at Tufts Medicine.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to former Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Stephen Lynch, former state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, Mikko Zager, Maureen Williams and Ed Dombroski.

HAPPY BIRTHWEEKEND — to Veterans Secretary Jon Santiago, Matt Szafranski of Western Mass Politics & Insight, photog Dan Little; Dan Lothian, founder of Little Park Media and a CNN alum; and Jacob Spiering, who celebrate Saturday; and to Sunday birthday-ers state Rep. Frank Moran, Billy Jaffe and Pete D’Agostino, partner at Tenax Strategies.

NEW HORSE RACE ALERT: SECRETARIAT — State House News Service reporter Sam Drysdale joins hosts Steve Koczela and Lisa Kashinsky to discuss how Gov. Maura Healey’s plan for a standalone housing secretariat is being received by lawmakers. Koczela and Kashinsky chat about Sen. Elizabeth Warren‘s reelection bid. Subscribe and listen on iTunes and Sound Cloud.

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