Mass. lawmakers impatient with chaos, lack of action in D.C.

President Donald Trump, right, listened as Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, spoke during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.
Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
President Donald Trump, right, listened as Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, spoke during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.

There’s anger. There’s agitation. But most of all there is impatience, as Massachusetts’ top politicians watch the Trump-driven drama unfolding in Washington and lament the serious work of federal governing that is not getting done.

They responded Thursday to the unrelenting barrage of Trump administration revelations with a mixture of worry, wit, and fatigue, eagerness to learn the facts, and support for the Department of Justice naming a special counsel to oversee the investigation into potential links between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“It feels like we all have whiplash from trying to keep up with Trump’s chaos,” said Representative Katherine M. Clark, a Melrose Democrat.


“The political pressure surrounding this deepening crisis in Washington is palpable,” said Democratic Representative William R. Keating of Bourne.

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Representative Michael E. Capuano, who said he has been troubled and anxious, sees the appointment of former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel as encouraging, and hopes it lets Congress get back to work.

“But I do fear there will be many more shoes to drop in the not too distant future,” the Somerville Democrat said.

To a large extent, the state’s elected officials are looking on from the sidelines. All nine representatives and both senators are Democrats in legislative bodies controlled by Republicans. Governor Charlie Baker is a Republican who said he did not vote for Trump and has frequently kept the new administration at arm’s length.

But to varying degrees, Trump-bashing carries political benefits in a state that voted 60 percent to 33 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.


Thursday morning, just hours after the special counsel was named, the president tweeted that “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

Representative Seth W. Moulton, a North Shore Democrat, replied with a snarky history lesson.

“As the Representative of Salem, MA, I can confirm that this is false,” he tweeted, alluding to the 17th-century witch trials.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura T. Healey, who led 20 attorneys general in calling for a special counsel last week, said in a telephone interview that she is glad to see Mueller’s appointment.

“This is the first step, but it cannot be the last,” the Charlestown Democrat said.


And, like other elected officials, Healey said this is a critical time, one that underscores “the need to stand up for American values, our democracy, and our institutions.”

Senator Edward J. Markey said Trump is “tearing at the fabric of our democracy 140 characters at a time. Through tweets, so-called ‘alternative facts,’ and incompetence, President Trump has driven the nation close to a constitutional crisis.”

The Malden Democrat said Mueller must conduct the Russia investigation without White House interference “because each day President Trump is in office, he does something that compromises our security and democracy.”

Representative Joe Kennedy III, the Brookline Democrat and scion of the famed political family, anchored his concerns in those of everyday people.

“There are enough things that keep Americans up at night — their jobs, mortgages, health, bills, families,” he said. “Whether or not their president is colluding with Russia should not be one of them.”

Elected officials underscored the work left undone amid the tumult in the nation’s capital.

Representative Richard E. Neal of Springfield, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which writes tax, trade, and health care law, said all the focus on the potential connection between Trump associates and Russia “will make it difficult for significant progress to be made this year on issues like tax reform and improving our health care system.”

And Neal called for an independent committee to investigate the foreign adversary’s interference.

South Boston Representative Stephen F. Lynch said he hopes Mueller’s appointment allows Capitol Hill to refocus.

“There is plenty of meaningful work we could be doing,” the Democrat said.

And Moulton echoed that sentiment.

“Too much drama,” he said. “Let’s get to the bottom of this so we can focus on helping grow the economy, improving health care, and getting Americans back to work.”

Baker, who is up for reelection next year, responded to the partisan chaos in Washington by emphasizing the bipartisanship of Beacon Hill.

“I take a certain amount of gratitude in the fact that, in Massachusetts, we all seem to find a way to work together and to get along,” he said, “no matter what our party affiliation is or where we’re coming from.”

Speaking to reporters in Boston at the ribbon cutting for a new facility for women recovering from addiction, Baker pointed to the effort across party lines to address the scourge in Massachusetts.

And, echoing his fellow Bay State politicians, Baker said he seeks something that many see in short supply in the District of Columbia these days: truth.

“I think what we really need more than anything in Washington right now,” he said, “is clarity and visibility on the facts.”

Joshua Miller can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at