There has been an overwhelmingly positive response in Massachusetts politics to Trump’s felony convictions

Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal during his 2016 presidential bid was roundly cheered Thursday by Massachusetts’ Democratic-dominated political establishment.

In an interview with GBH News, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton called the case against Trump “open and shut,” adding, “If I had paid off a porn star as a member of Congress” — that is, Stephanie Gregory Clifford, known as “Stormy Daniels” – “with campaign funds raised from American taxpayers, I would be expelled from Congress in a heartbeat.”

Under Trump’s leadership, Michael Cohen paid Clifford $130,000 in the run-up to the 2016 election, and Trump repaid that amount the following year with money from a personal account and the Trump Organization.

But Moulton also sounded a note of caution, saying the outcome of the trial “really raises the stakes for November.”

“I’m sure Team Trump will try to take advantage of this however they can,” Moulton said. “They’ll raise a lot of money. He will become more violent and decaying as a candidate. And all of that is dangerous for our democracy.”

Rep. Jake Auchincloss expressed similar concerns in an interview with GBH News, saying Trump “has claimed that the system has been rigged against him his entire career. … He is a grievance fighter and he will turn the U.S. government into his own personal retaliation machine if he gains power.”

But Auchincloss also said the verdict represents a huge political opportunity for Democrats.

“Republicans are downsizing border security,” he said. “They defend insurgents. They debunk the FBI. They’re pushing guns into our schools, and now they’re nominating a convicted felon for president.

“The Republican Party is not the party of law and order. And if the Democrats take the initiative on law and order, if we govern on it, if we gain voters’ confidence in it, we will win the election,” Auchincloss said.

In a statement released shortly after the verdict was announced, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley also rejected Trump’s claims that he is being unfairly prosecuted for political reasons, instead calling the outcome a long-awaited moment of accountability for a serial bad actor .

“From discriminating against black tenants to defrauding small businesses, to bribery, hush-money schemes, election interference and insurrection, this man broke the law to advance his own interests at the expense of other people and at the expense of our democracy,” Pressley said .

She also called Trump “unfit” to hold public office, saying he poses a threat to American democracy “that cannot be overstated.”

In a statement, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark said the verdict shows that “regardless of wealth, fame or position,” no one in the United States is above the law. Noting that Trump is now marked by two impeachments and 34 felony convictions, Clark then also looked to November and said, “The American people deserve so much better.”

The most succinct response from the Mass Congress delegation might have come from Rep. Lori Trahan, who tweeted: “No one is above the law.”

However, the reaction to Trump’s conviction was not uniformly positive in the Massachusetts political world.

Mass GOP Chairman Amy Carnevale, who has tried to connect pro- and anti-Trump factions within her own party, released a statement calling Trump the victim of a “political persecution” and said she expects that the verdict will be reversed on appeal.

“Today marks an extremely troubling moment for the integrity of the American justice system,” Carnevale said. “The Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice both investigated these allegations and have chosen not to file charges against President Trump.

“It should have ended there. This case should never have been prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney driven by political ambition.”

Jim Lyons, who preceded Carnevale as chairman of the Mass. GOP and Trump embraced during his term, tweeting a black and white image that read “America is Broken.” He then tweeted another image of Trump smiling with his fist raised, accompanied by the words “BREAKING NEWS POLITICAL PRISONER.” Lyons added his own gloss to that second image, writing, “He’s still fighting! Let’s support him!”, followed by three American flag emojis.

How the verdict will affect support for Trump overall is an open question. But John Cluverius, a political scientist at UMass Lowell, told GBH News that among voters focused solely on the 2024 presidential election, the verdict is likely to be damaging to Trump.

“It’s important to remember that this is the first major party presidential candidate to ever have to be a convicted felon in the history of the United States,” Cluverius said. “And for voters who aren’t paying attention, this really shapes their attitude toward someone who has always profiled himself as someone who has stood up to the corruption of Washington, DC… It’s a lot harder to make that case when you are someone who is being judged for their actions in a political campaign.

“The more the focus of the news is on the corruption of one candidate, rather than on how people feel about the economy or the status of immigration at the border, the less positive it is for Donald Trump,” Cluverius added.

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