William Weld, Former Massachusetts Governor (Wikimedia). ()
Following last week’s election, plenty of Obama administration lawyers are looking for somewhere to land after stints in public service, while some big firm lawyers are angling for spots in a Trump administration. But William Weld is charting a different course—leaving the campaign trail as the Libertarian Party ticket’s number two and returning to his old firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo.
A former Republican governor of Massachusetts who served as running mate to 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, Weld is now back at Mintz Levin in Boston, a firm spokeswoman confirmed this week. He returns to his role as a partner at the firm and principal with Mintz Levin’s government relations arm, ML Strategies, after more than five months on the campaign trail.
“Being back here, just in terms of rhythm, is pure pleasure because you get to sit at a desk and think,” Weld said in a brief interview on Friday.
Despite longstanding past ties to the Republican Party, Weld was nominated in late May to serve as the Libertarian vice presidential candidate, and ran alongside Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico. The nomination marked the latest endeavor for Weld, whose career has included a mix of public and private sector positions. In the 1980s, Weld served as the top federal prosecutor in Boston and later headed the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal division. He was elected to two terms as Massachusetts’ governor, serving from 1991 to 1997, and a decade ago unsuccessfully sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination in New York.
Weld entered the 2016 presidential campaign scene with vocal condemnations of Donald Trump, who later went on to win the U.S. electoral vote on Nov. 8 and become president-elect. The Mintz Levin lawyer referenced the Holocaust—more than once—while describing Trump’s immigration platform.
As the campaign wore on, Johnson took flack for a gaffe in which he balked in a television interview when asked about the Syrian city of Aleppo and the ongoing refugee crisis involving the country. Weld, meanwhile, remained highly critical of the Republican nominee, generating a measure of controversy late in the campaign season for arguing that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was better qualified than Trump to become president.
In September, famed journalist Carl Bernstein suggested that Weld should drop out of the race and campaign for Clinton. That remark was met with a forceful response from Johnson’s campaign—in a statement, a spokesman called it “wishful thinking” that Weld would leave the Libertarian ticket. Still, Weld didn’t let up on Trump.
“This is not the time to cast a jocular or feel-good vote for a man whom you may have briefly found entertaining,” said Weld during an Oct. 25 press conference. “Donald Trump should not, cannot, and must not be elected president of the United States.”
Ultimately, Johnson and Weld picked up about 3.3 percent of the popular vote on Election Day across the country, as Trump swept to victory with 290 electoral votes.
On Friday, Weld said he didn’t “mind having shared” some of those critiques of Trump’s temperament, but added, “that’s now in the rear view mirror.” Weld said he agreed with post-election pleas from Clinton and President Barack Obama to give Trump a chance to see how he governs once in the White House.
As for Weld, who joined Mintz Levin in October 2012, he expects his time on the campaign trail might have some impact on his efforts for the firm’s clients.
“I think the experience might lead me to be just a shade more aggressive in contending for my clients’ interests,” he said. “There’s no shame in that, just as there’s no shame in getting out there and asking people to vote for me.”