Election 2016

One of the Republican Party’s Last Good Men

esquire.comBack when I was just starting out at The Boston Phoenix, William Weld was the United States Attorney in Boston. He was tasked with cleaning out the traditional rat’s nest of corruption in city and state government, and he was very enthusiastic about his job. He was just the strangest combination of joviality and implacability that I ever encountered.

Once, in 1981, his office brought an extortion case against the president of the Massachusetts Senate, whom Weld charged with shaking down a contractor who’d been consensually paying off the senator for over a decade. (The government’s case depended on some arcane point of the extortion statute that I still don’t understand.) I sat through the entire trial; I was in the courtroom the day that Ronald Reagan was shot. The judge on the case was as hostile to the government’s case as it was possible to be. He did everything but throw rocks from the bench at the prosecutor’s table. The jury, which was as baffled as the rest of us were, couldn’t come to a verdict. I spoke to Weld in the aftermath and we had a good laugh at the antics of the judge and of some of the witnesses.

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