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This important Groton Republican isn't doing Trump's bidding

I thought eastern Connecticut Republicans couldn't have sunk much lower this election season than when they nominated someone for a seat in the U.S. Congress who party leaders knew was being accused of a brutal assault on his girlfriend.

Despite an election eve arrest on strangulation charges, the party's nominated candidate almost squeaked out a win in a close primary.

And yet Groton Republicans did indeed sink lower with a recent demand for the resignation of a Black town councilor, Aundré Bumgardner, who pointed out in a tweet the implicit racism contained in a vote for Donald Trump, a president who has called for white supremacists to "stand by."

Indeed, with Republican state Sen. Heather Somers of Groton calling protests of racism that followed the George Floyd killing a "darkness" sweeping the country and a Republican on the Groton Board of Education posting "be proud to be white" admonitions on Facebook, the issue of racism seems to be haunting local Republicans.

I was reminded again this summer of the 2017 rally for a Trump visit in New London, in which a one-time Republican candidate for the U.S. 2nd Congressional District stood and posed in front of cameras with someone wearing a white robe.

I am beginning to wonder if there isn't a closet full of those robes at Republican headquarters.

But this week I would like to celebrate one Groton Republican for what appears to be a principled refusal to be brow beaten by our racist president, someone who elevates the party above the nomination of candidates for Congress who are accused abusers or eventually stage photo ops with people in white robes.

U.S. Attorney John Durham of Groton, who has been assigned an investigation into the origins of the Justice Department's Russia probe, is apparently not going to satisfy the president with any pre-election bombshells.

"It's a disgrace," Trump said about recent news reports in which Attorney General William Barr is quoted as saying that the Durham investigation won't produce any indictments before the election.

Trump already had come up with a name, Obamagate, for all the spying and wrongdoing by the administration of the country's first Black president that Durham was evidently supposed to uncover and prosecute.

Indeed, Trump has been excoriating Barr for not producing the goods.

"Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes, the greatest crime in the history of our country, then we're going to get little satisfaction unless I win," Trump told Fox Business.

He said he was determined to find out why Durham will not be releasing a report.

"He's got so much stuff," the president said.

Even as the attorney general had teased earlier that the Durham investigation might produce some results by the end of summer, I had doubts that the reticent Durham, who has steadfastly refused throughout his career to give news interviews, was going to pull an October surprise out of his hat to make Trump happy.

The son of a manager of a Westerly manufacturing plant, a graduate of Groton schools and the University of Connecticut, he has built a reputation as a solid straight shooter, working for Democrats and Republicans alike, prosecuting mobsters and even Connecticut's Republican Gov. John Rowland.

Maybe the Durham probe eventually will reveal allegations of wrongdoing and even produce indictments. But they would have much more credibility if they aren't rolled out in advance of an election.

So, the final story about the Durham investigation into the Russia probe may not yet be written.

But for my money, as we race toward the finish of the crazy 2020 election season, with its subplots of racial reckoning and a staggering pandemic, Durham stands out among Groton Republicans for a steady hand and turning down the volume on Trumpism.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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