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NH politicians' reaction to Cohen and Manafort development follows partisan lines

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 22. 2018 8:14PM

 (Union Leader Staff)

Gov. Chris Sununu says his support for President Trump has not wavered in the wake of Tuesday’s guilty plea by the President’s former private attorney Michael Cohen and felony convictions of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

The top elected GOP official in the state, Sununu urged people to reserve judgment.

“That case is ongoing and justice has to play out,” said Sununu, referring to the Cohen guilty plea. “It sounds like they are going to go through a court process to figure out what really happened there. This drama has been playing out for more than a year and a half, so we’ll have to wait until we get to the end game of where these probes and investigations are really going.”

Cohen pled guilty to charges that he violated campaign finance laws by making pre-election payoffs to silence women who claimed to have affairs with the President, while Manafort was found guilty on eight federal felony charges related to tax evasion and bank fraud.

Sununu predicted the fallout from Tuesday’s news would have little if any effect on November voting in New Hampshire. “I don’t think it has any real impact on the state of New Hampshire, our elections or our economy,” he said. “We don’t let the dysfunction of Washington, D.C., define our success here in the Granite State.”

Most of the political reaction in the Granite State focused on the Cohen case, which is tied directly to the President, as opposed to Manafort’s conviction on crimes that pre-dated his involvement with Trump.

New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan joined a chorus of Democratic peers in calling on the Senate to delay hearings on Trump’s newest nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, given Cohen’s statement that he violated federal election law at the direction of the President.

Shaheen pointed out that Kavanaugh has been nominated for a lifetime appointment and would rule on any case pertaining to the President.

“There must be checks and balances on this President,” she said. “To that end, the senate should be provided all necessary records related to Kavanaugh’s nomination, particularly those that indicate his views on executive power. The senate needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities and fully vet this nomination.”

Hassan described what she called “a clear pattern of criminality” in the Trump administration.

“President Trump’s closest circle of advisers, including his campaign chairman, personal lawyer, White House National Security Adviser, deputy campaign chair and campaign adviser have all either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of serious criminal charges in a court of law,” she said. “Now more than ever, the ongoing investigations regarding President Trump and his associates must be allowed to continue without any interference from the President or his administration.”

Former Trump political strategist Stephen Bannon told the Washington Post the two cases will help galvanize GOP support. “This clarifies that you have to show up on Election Day; you have to double down on intensity because it reinforces that Trump is at war,” he said.

But David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist and longtime adviser to former President Barack Obama, described Tuesday as “a catastrophic day” for the President.

Democratic Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky echoed that sentiment.

“I think we need to know more about it, but on the surface of what’s been said, it makes the President a co-conspirator in federal felonies, which is not the example I’d like to see from my President, and should be considered by the next Congress.”

When asked if he thought Cohen’s allegations heightened the likelihood of an impeachment vote if the Democrats become the majority party in the House of Representatives in November, Democratic Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, a candidate for Congress, hedged.

“That’s a decision, a somber constitutional one, that you make once all the information is put on the table.”

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