Opening the gate
Former FBI director James Comey now joins the growing ranks of law enforcement officials fired by President Trump, alongside former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and Preet Bharara, the former US attorney in New York.
In addition to their shared fates, they also are three law enforcement officials who were overseeing active investigations into the Trump administration and its ties to Russia at the time of their terminations. Coincidence? You make the call.
No sooner had the first alert gone out Tuesday evening about Trump canning the controversial FBI head, with whom he’s had a hate/love/hate-with-the-intensity-of-a-thousand-burning-suns relationship, than the specter of Watergate was raised. Comparisons were immediately made to the Saturday Night Massacre, when then-President Richard Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox and both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, resigned rather than follow Nixon’s orders to oust Cox.
While the “gate” suffix has been attached to any number of major and minor scandals since that third-rate burglary 45 years ago spawned the new phrase, the current situation seems deserving. Russiagate, Comeygate, Hackgate, Termigate. Call it whatever you want, but in the eyes of many on both sides of the aisle, this one doesn’t pass the smell test.
One such problem is contained in Naftali’s observation on the involvement of Sessions.
Sessions recused himself from overseeing anything to do with the probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the election after it was revealed the former Alabama senator had met with a Russian official and failed to tell Congress during his nomination hearings. Yet Trump said he made his decision in part because of Sessions’s recommendation to replace Comey.
Trump cited Comey’s actions in the investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s email issues as the predicate for his decision. Though Trump gleefully basked in “lock her up” chants during the campaign and praised Comey when he revealed the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation days before the election, he hung his move on Comey’s supposed violations of long-held protocol in talking publicly about the probe and airing his conclusion that there should be no prosecution, without consulting prosecutors.
But Trump also made an oblique CYA reference to the Russia investigation, inserting the preemptive and self-serving line, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation…” into the termination letter. With Comey now a free agent and no longer under the strictures of his office, it will be interesting to hear exactly what he told the president and what the context was when he inevitably lands before Congress for a hearing.
And have no doubt, there will be congressional hearings. The calls for an independent counsel have now crossed party lines, especially with concern that whomever Trump appoints to take Comey’s place will broom the Russia inquiries under the gate.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg suggests putting education policy on hold until after a vote on the millionaire’s tax on the 2018 state ballot. (CommonWealth)
Health care advocates push for a new per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. (MassLive)
Barring the emergence of a legal challenge, Massachusetts will start collecting sales taxes on online purchases July 1. (WBUR)
The Boston Foundation’s Paul Grogan examines the renaissance of Boston. (WBUR)
Brockton city councilors delayed a vote on the $78 million purchase of the Aquaria desalination plant until an independent analysis by area businessmen is conducted. (The Enterprise)
A New Hampshire lawmaker with ties to a misogynistic online forum says: “I’ve never hated women.” (Eagle-Tribune)
Raising the gas tax is no longer taboo in many states. (Governing)
A storage tunnel in the state of Washington holding rail cars full of nuclear waste partially collapses, but there are no apparent radiation leaks. (Associated Press)
Boston city council candidates seem to be raising campaign money at a healthy clip. (Boston Herald)
Two Lowell-area nonprofits — UTEC and Girls Inc. — receive grants from the Cummings Foundation that will allow the firms to operate with few financial concerns for the next decade. (Lowell Sun)
State regulators say brew beast Anheuser-Busch is part of a widespread “pay-to-play” scheme to have bars and liquor stores favor its products. (Boston Globe)
Recreational marijuana shops could pose a threat to the medical pot shops that are now up and running. (Boston Globe)
Canada could be the biggest beneficiary of President Trump’s efforts to restrict immigration, with foreign tech workers opting for our northern neighbor and bolstering that country’s growing artificial intelligence industry. (New York Times)
A North Quincy High School science instructor is named the 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. (Boston Herald)
A federal judge ordered Boston Latin School to turn over information to plaintiffs who are alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian applicants in its admissions procedures. (Boston Globe)
Civil rights groups renew the complaint that the racial composition of Boston Latin’s student population does not reflect the makeup of the city’s public schools. (Boston Herald)
Black girls are far more likely to be suspended from school than white girls but mostly for talking back to teachers or minor transgressions rather than serious misbehavior, according to a new study. (U.S. News & World Report)
Cardinal Sean O’Malley is said to strongly oppose the idea of admitting girls to Boston College High School because of concern over the ripple effects it would have on all-girl Catholic high schools in the area. (Boston Globe)
The state Department of Public Health puts on hold plans by UMass Medical Center to replace 13 in-patient psychiatric beds. (MassLive)
The Republican health care bill means big trouble for state budgets, writes Scot Lehigh. (Boston Globe)
Cambridge is considering the idea of stationing lockboxes throughout the city stocked with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. (Boston Globe)
A new study highlights the difficulty families have accessing psychiatric care for children. (Boston Globe)
An American University student has developed a website for people to sign up and have their ashes mailed to GOP lawmakers as a protest of Republican health care reform. (National Review)
US Rep. Seth Moulton voices disagreement with state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack on whether South Station expansion and a North-South Rail Link can both be done. He calls the South Station project a massive waste of $2 billion. (CommonWealth)
The MBTA drops plans to add stops to its nonstop Boston-to-Worcester service in the evening. (Telegram & Gazette)
Uber and Lyft submitted comments to state regulators asking them to revise the policy on background checks for would-be drivers that has resulted in thousands of people being deemed ineligible for the work for the companies. (Boston Globe)
Vineyard Wind brings a big energy player onto its team as the Massachusetts RFP for offshore wind nears. (CommonWealth)
Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn says he will appeal a judge’s decision to vacate Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction following the former football star’s suicide. (Herald News)
The town of Mount Pleasant, New York, has reached a settlement with the family of DJ Henry and issued an apology for the fatal shooting of the Easton college student by police seven years ago. (The Enterprise)
Dan Flynn, a well-known Quincy real estate kingpin and auctioneer, was sentenced to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to bilking 10 people out of $9.5 million in fraudulent investments, though officials say the victim count and cash total was far higher. (Patriot Ledger)
A doctor accused of sexually assaulting two patients is found not guilty in Worcester Superior Court. (Telegram & Gazette)MEDIA
The Wall Street Journal, like the New York Times and Washington Post, is experiencing strong subscriber growth. (CNN)