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Dan Tuohy's Granite Status: Not so fast, Republicans say of rush to judge Trump Jr.

July 13. 2017 1:12AM

Donald Trump Jr.’s emails and meeting with a Kremlin-backed lawyer for possible dirt on Hillary Clinton stoked controversy about alleged collusion between his dad’s campaign and Russia, but some local Republicans are saying: Not so fast.

“Nobody has any evidence that there was anything followed up on,” said Steve Duprey, GOP national committeeman from New Hampshire.

Duprey says the investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to probe Russian interference in the election and possible collusion, should run its course.

Such a wait-and-see approach comes as President Donald Trump again called the story — or fabrication in his view — the “greatest witch hunt in political history.”

Other New Hampshire Republicans defended the President’s eldest son.

“I don’t think there’s any fallout. I don’t think he’s done anything illegal,” said Jack Flanagan, a Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.

First Congressional District candidate Eddie Edwards accused Democrats of being reckless in their charges. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, said that Trump Jr.’s meeting might rise to the level of treason.

Edwards, a former police chief, spoke of taking a law enforcement perspective. “I believe in gathering facts first, get them all on the table, so that we can make an appropriate decision and an appropriate reaction to it,” he said. “To go out and start accusing people of treason and indicting people — it’s a little bit reckless and irresponsible.”

Steve Stepanek, a New Hampshire co-chair for Trump’s campaign, said nothing ultimately will become of the meeting and the emails, which were first reported by The New York Times.

“Real reform, real work, is happening,” Stepanek said. “It’s a distraction, but only for the left media and the Democrats.”

Of the Trump Jr. emails, Duprey said, “I think it shows their inexperience of how presidential campaigns are run. A savvy campaign would have said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’”

Duprey offered a corollary, inspired by the late Martin Gross: “Before suspecting malevolence, consider the strong possibility of incompetence.”

It’s not exactly a “Keep calm and carry ‘Don’” solidarity among Republicans. But it’s certainly not a flattering take on the Trump campaign. At the meeting in question, in June 2016, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in

-law Jared Kushner were also in attendance, at least for some of it. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the Trump Jr. emails, and offer of help from someone connected to a foreign government, “disturbing.”

Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, referred to it as something of a watershed week in connection with the reported Russian interference probe. “Donald Trump Jr.’s email at the very least debunks the constant lies told by so many Trump administration officials,” Buckley said in a statement.

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PLUS ONE: McKenzie St. Germain was recently hired as executive director for the Manchester City Democrats. She previously worked as a field organizer for Civix Strategy Group, the consulting outfit run by communications and political pro Karen Hicks. St. Germain, an Amherst native and St. Michael’s College graduate, was a regional organizer for NextGen Climate and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She’s on board in time for two big races this year: the Senate District 16 special election July 25, and the Manchester mayoral race.

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AIR TIME: Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, will be in separate radio ads later today in support of former Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, who is facing off against Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh in the Senate District 16 race. "I need David Boutin in the state Senate because he's a proven leader on issues that are important to New Hampshire," Sununu says in the ad. Ayotte asks for support for Boutin, citing Democrats' organizing a "resistance summer," which she call obstructionist to GOP efforts to get things done. "That's not the New Hampshire way. We work together to solve our state's problems," Ayotte says. "David Boutin has always worked across the aisle to make New Hampshire a better place to live. It's never mattered to him whether it's a Democrat or Republican idea, as long as it's a good idea that will help New Hampshire."

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THE U.S. SENATE Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing July 18 on the nomination of Rich Ashooh of Bedford to be Assistant Secretary for Export Administration for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Ashooh, who ran for Congress last year, is a former executive at BAE Systems and past interim director of the Warren B. Rudman Center at UNH School of Law.

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NO ENDLESS SUMMER: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is delaying the August recess in order to work on a GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. The President applauded the move.

Eddie Edwards called on Congress to get it done. “Congress should stay through August and do their job that they’ve been entrusted to do, and that is to reform health care in this country,” he said.

He and state Sen. Andy Sanborn, a fellow Republican running for the 1st Congressional District, and 2nd District Republican hopeful Jack Flanagan, called upon Republicans in Congress to fulfill campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare.

They bemoaned the taxes that are “baked into” Obamacare, as Sanborn put it, during a news conference Wednesday with Americans for Tax Reform.

“Even the Democrats agree that the Affordable Care Act today is falling apart,” Sanborn said. “It’s time for us to come together and build a program that actually makes it better for the people of New Hampshire, which cuts their costs and increases their accessibility to great health care.”

Greater access and choice, transparency, and interstate insurance options are a few of the goals cited.

Flanagan, a former state representative who worked in the insurance industry, said both sides of the aisle need to put aside differences and get something done for consumers, and businesses.

“It’s being demagogued, I guess, is really what is happening,” Flanagan said. “We call it Obamacare. We call it Trumpcare. But it’s just health insurance.”

New Hampshire’s all-Democrat congressional delegation continues to defend Obamacare, and Medicaid expansion, while calling for needed improvements. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, lined up behind a Democratic leadership push this week urging support for legislation to stabilize the health insurance marketplace. Shaheen has introduced the “Marketplace Certainty Act,” which calls for permanently appropriating cost-sharing reductions in an effort to boost affordability. She said the GOP blocked her effort.

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• Rep. Caleb Q. Dyer, L-Pelham, filed his candidate committee last week for 2018. He’s the floor leader for the trio of Libertarians in the New Hampshire House. This week, the Southern New Hampshire Libertarian Party filed with the Secretary of State as a political advocacy organization to try to give the Libertarian legislative caucus some more company.

• LMP NH registered with Secretary of State as a political committee July 6. The NHGOP previously filed a complaint that LMP had made an independent expenditure in the Senate District 16 special election and had failed to register as a PAC this cycle. Other PAC filings included Democratic Town Committee of Exeter and the NH Young Republicans PAC, the latter listing Joe Sweeney as chairman.

• Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, returns to New Hampshire on Wednesday. He will campaign for Kevin Cavanaugh, the Manchester alderman who is running for the vacant Senate 16 seat.

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

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