AG Healey: ‘This New Administration Really Scares Me’
By Evan Lips | January 11, 2017, 7:31 EDT
NEWBURYPORT — Attorney General Maura Healey on Tuesday put the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump on notice and vowed to “protect [against] the rolling back of the progress” she said has been achieved under outgoing President Barack Obama.
“When I think about Donald Trump — I’ve run out of fingers — trying to count how many groups he offended throughout the course of this campaign,” Healey said, adding that she sees her position as “the first line of defense against the Trump administration.”
“This new administration really scares me.”
Healey’s politically-charged town hall event, the third of five scheduled at various Bay State locations, saw the attorney general draw cheers from Newburyport City Hall’s packed auditorium when she noted that America “is a country that is operated through the application of the rule of law” and that “states need to step up and be there to enforce the laws.”
Healey, however, went on to rip Trump’s pick of Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and singled out Sessions over his criticisms of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive action allowing hundreds of thousands of children born to illegal immigrants to avoid deportation.
“There are so many laws on the books that are there to be enforced, and if they’re not going to do their job at the federal level, then we sure are going to do our job at the state level,” Healey said at one point before taking additional shots at Sessions’s record.
“He said it would be perfectly constitutional to end DACA and take away the rights given to immigrants — in particular, young immigrants — living here in the United States,” Healey told the crowd.
DACA, which did not go through Congress, most recently failed to advance out of federal court after attorneys general from 26 other states challenged the executive order.
Healey also called on the audience to try and “understand what it is that was truly on people’s minds in November” and to “just break through all the BS and nonsense that is rhetoric and that is fake news out there.”
She later went on to scold Sessions for his work serving Alabama as a U.S. attorney during the 1980s.
“He actually sued African Americans who were working to register people to vote,” Healey said, referring a 1985 case in which Sessions prosecuted three black activists, including former Martin Luther King Jr. aide Albert Turner, on charges of altering absentee ballots.
“I hope that the next U.S. attorney general — whoever he may be — understands that he is not the attorney for the president of the United States; he is the attorney general for the people of the United States,” Healey said to cheers.
Healey also took aim at Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
“I am so bothered by the spectre of Scott Pruitt heading the EPA,” Healey said. “I served with Scott Pruitt — I know Scott Pruitt — Scott Pruitt is a disaster for the environment, which is a disaster for our economy, which is a disaster for the world — for the globe — for the global economy.
“I’m going to do everything I can to oppose that nomination.”
“We’ve got to do everything in our power over the coming days to get the word out about the calls that need to be made to members of the Senate to stop some of these confirmations from going forward,” Healey said at one point, drawing more cheers.
Healey later pointed out that it was former Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley who in 2009 filed a successful lawsuit challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996 under then-President Bill Clinton. Healey at that time was working as an assistant attorney general under Coakley.
“If we have to sue the federal government, we’ll do it again,” she said to applause.
Healey also doubled-down on implying that Sessions still holds lurking racist tendencies, as evidenced by his time as U.S. attorney.
“He’ll say that was a long time ago but these things are ‘core,’ folks, you can’t tell me that one’s views change that much over time,” she said. “That was a non-starter when he was up for a federal judgeship in 1986 — you tell me why that’s a non-starter now.”
The event was staged with Healey speaking in front of a screen that rotated between images of various slides. Some of the slides included information on how to call members of the U.S. Senate to voice disapproval of the Sessions nomination while other slides urged attendees to “join Maura’s social media squad.” Another slide referenced Healey’s hate crime hotline — the answering service Healey’s office began following Trump’s presidential win.
“You know, shortly after the election, I set up a hotline because people were starting to get reports of who were being harassed, assaulted, taunted because of their appearance or perceived immigration status,” Healey noted. “I don’t need to tell you this — this stuff is real.”
Healey mentioned her support for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The event also featured a question-and-answer session.
One woman asked about “the bloodless coup that will be taking place on January 20,” the day of Trump’s inauguration, a reference to recent intelligence reports that Russian operatives were behind the leak of embarrassing Democratic National Committee emails.
“As far as I’m aware of Trump will be impeachable on that day,” the woman, who did not share her name, noted.
Healey told the woman she too feels a “level of upset and indignation that I don’t recall feeling before.”
Peter Swartz, a local psychologist, later told Healey he’s determined that Trump is suffering from “two personality disorders at least.”
Swartz said he’s written to various senators and psychological associations but has “gotten nowhere.”
“He couldn’t get a job driving a school bus because of his mental illness,” Swartz claimed about Trump. “I just wanted to put that out there — I’m willing to talk at more length with anybody who is interested in understanding the risks involved.”
Healey’s next town hall meeting is scheduled to take place in Springfield on Wednesday, January 18, two days before Trump’s inauguration.