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Dan Tuohy's Granite Status: Granite Staters continue to weigh in on FBI memo


One of President Donald Trump’s 2016 state co-chairmen says he has had it with all the innuendos, anonymous sources and White House leaks.

But what about this memo that memorializes the President telling former FBI Director James Comey to end the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn? Does it sound like possible obstruction of justice?

“I’m not going to go there,” said Steve Stepanek. “I don’t know what they say. You don’t know what they say.”

The world may soon know exactly what they say now that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Comey to testify next week.

Stepanek reflects a core of Trump supporters who are “the anti-resistance” as the White House beats back this controversy that began with his firing of Comey on May 9. Trump met the next day with Russian officials in the Oval Office and shared classified information with them — which, Stepanek emphasizes, was within his authority.

He’s standing by the President. Some Republicans in Washington were letting Trump have it.

“Regrettably,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, “the time President Trump spent sharing sensitive information with Russians was time he did not spend focusing on Russia’s aggressive behavior, including its interference in American and European elections, its illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, its other destabilizing activities across Europe, and the slaughter of innocent civilians and targeting of hospitals in Syria.”

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, said she was outraged. “I agree,” she said, “that we should have a classified briefing so senators know what was shared with the Russians. I am very concerned that this ultimately makes us less safe.”

On Tuesday, The New York Times published its report that Comey had written a specific memo, a bombshell it was called. Democrats who want to see it as “Comey’s comet,” hurtling toward earth and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, renewed calls for a special, independent counsel. [Former FBI chief appointed special counsel]

On Wednesday, the Justice Department named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russia.

Some Democrats were using the word “impeachment.” Even McCain drew comparisons to Watergate.

“It certainly looks very bad,” said former U.S. Ambassador Terry Shumaker, a longtime friend and supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton. If the reports are true and Trump did what’s alleged, it’s far worse than anything he accused Hillary Clinton of doing, he said. But, he said it is important that everyone just slow down, Democrats and Republicans alike, and do the due diligence. “We haven’t seen the memo yet,” he said.

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A FORMER VICE chairman of the Republican State Committee is considering a run for the 1st Congressional District. Matt Mayberry of Dover confirmed Wednesday that he is weighing a campaign. “There’s an interest,” he tells Granite Status. Mayberry briefly considered running for chairman of the state GOP in January, but declined to run after Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, endorsed former Sen. Jeanie Forrester for the job. Eddie Edwards, a former chief of state liquor enforcement and former police chief, is the only announced Republican candidate for the 1st District. State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, is considering jumping into the race, and look for a likely announcement after June. Former New Hampshire Health and Human Services commissioner John Stephen is mentioned as a possible fourth Republican hopeful, with all eyes on four-term U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH. Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-NH, has had little public profile since he lost in 2016, in his fourth head-to-head with Shea-Porter for the seat.

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EDWARDS picked up some additional support this week. State Rep. Peter Varney and Beth Varney, Trump supporters from Alton who were alternate delegates to the 2016 Republican National Committee, and Joseph and Dodi Guyton of Rye endorsed Edwards for Congress this week. The four, in different statements, spoke of the importance of creating jobs and helping businesses and entrepreneurs thrive. “I’m a proud Granite Stater who has been a business owner and a legislator,” Varney said. “I have also devoted over three decades to the fire and ambulance services in Belknap and Strafford County. I know firsthand of the challenges facing folks in our part of the state and the type of representative they want advocating on their behalf in Washington.”

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ENDORSEMENT ALLEY: Former Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, is announcing today the support of more than 20 elected officials and local leaders in Senate District 16, which covers Bow, Candia, Dunbarton, Hooksett, and wards 1, 2, and 12 in Manchester. The supporters include a handful of Hooksett town councilors, Candia selectmen Scott Komisarek and Carleton Robie, and Bow selectmen Eric Anderson, Benjamin Kiniry, and Chris Nicolopoulos. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, Alderman at-large Joe Kelly Levasseur, and former mayor and Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek are in Boutin's corner. And Reps. Bill Kuch of Bow and Yvonne Dean-Bailey, who represents Candia, also back Boutin. Dean-Bailey said Boutin, while serving in the Senate, has been on the front lines in making communities safer.

Boutin is running in a special election July 25 because of the death of Sen. Scott McGilvray, D-Hooksett. He faces Libertarian Jason Dubrow of Dunbarton, and the winner of the Democratic primary, either Manchester Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh or former Executive Councilor Jim Normand.

Former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern endorsed Cavanaugh this week. Cavanaugh also announced new supporters: State Rep. Joel Elber, Rep. Jesse Martineau, and Daniel Bérubé, chairman of the Manchester Arts Commission. Elber is a Democrat representing Manchester Ward 12. Martineau is a Democrat representing wards 1 to 3. "He's focused on cutting the cost of higher education, improving our schools with more technical and career training, and building a stronger economy while bringing some balance back to Concord," Van Ostern said in a statement. The National Education Association of NH endorsed Cavanaugh last week, while the State Employees Association SEIU Local 1984 endorsed Boutin.

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QUICK TAKES:

• After reports of potential funding reductions, Shea-Porter co-signed a letter to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, urging him to keep funding for the White House “drug czar,” aka the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.

• After a House committee recommended no disciplinary action Wednesday against Rep. Robert Fisher, R-Laconia, and Rep. Sherry Frost, D-Dover, for controversial statements online, House Majority leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, repeated that Fisher’s past misogynistic comments were reprehensible and far worse than anything Frost wrote on Twitter. “No daylight there whatsoever,” he said. Hinch said that he would create a subcommittee to study rules and possible changes to better maintain decorum. [READ: Fisher resigns in wake of "Red Pill" scandal]

• The Hopkinton GOP is slated to have its inaugural meeting Friday. It’s an afternoon tea. What caught our eye: a note that a local candidate for the 2nd Congressional District will be attending. Who could that be? The GOP website did not say.

• U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, welcomed former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican from Rye who ran against her in 2014, into her office this week ahead of his hearing and nomination for U.S. ambassador to New Zealand. The former foe can count on her support.

Dan Tuohy covers politics and government for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Email news and information to dtuohy@unionleader.com.


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