Getting Trump’s attention

Someone needs to take away President Trump’s cellphone or shut down his Twitter account. Stat.

Trump raised the specter of recording his January dinner conversation with now-fired FBI director James Comey in a threat that wasn’t even thinly veiled. It was downright translucent.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!,” the tweeter-in-chief impetuously typed out Friday morning as media outlets were quoting associates “close to Comey” about what he did and didn’t tell Trump.

That opened up a whole can or worms that aides and top Republicans would rather have left in the container. There was no shortage of Democrats calling for the tapes, if they do exist, and over the weekend even some high-profile Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham were joining the call.

And let’s not even go into the potential of witness intimidation. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg with damage control when it comes to Trump and Twitter.

Politico this morning has a story that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has ordered aides not to surreptitiously slip fake news to Trump because he will act off it and vent his outrage. What’s more alarming? That Priebus has to tell people not to spread falsehoods? That aides slide erroneous news to Trump? Or that the president reacts impetuously and without a governor?

Case in point: Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland, who has been nominated to be ambassador to Singapore, gave Trump a 1970s cover of Time magazine that talked about an impending Ice Age and a 2008 cover about how to navigate global warming. Aides told Politico that Trump railed against the “hypocrisy” of the media, an explosion that usually presaged a Tweetstorm.

But just before Mount Donald went off in the unforgiving and unforgetting cyber world, aides found the earlier Time cover was a hoax, circulating for decades. But, one anonymous source said, it was an honest mistake.

“While the specific cover is fake, it is true there was a period in the ‘70s when people were predicting an ice age,” the official insisted. “The broader point I think was accurate.”

Um, no, it wasn’t accurate and that’s where some of the problems emanate. Trump surrogates, aware that he reacts to the last person he talks to, apparently slip him stories from questionable sources if it advances their own agenda. Trump, despite his ubiquitous presence in 140 characters, rarely explores the internet on his own. He watches cable news obsessively and reads several newspapers but eschews lengthy policy briefs.

Aides make sure his daily press clippings include positive coverage of the administration because it apparently puts him in a good mood and makes it less likely he’ll tweet.

JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

Inmate populations in Massachusetts have fallen since fiscal 2011 but spending on prisons and guards keeps on rising, says a new MassINC report. (CommonWealth) A Globe editorial says the report shows misguided spending priorities and urges a new focus on rehabilitation efforts. But maybe that call is too late. A major initiative to help prison inmates acclimate to life on the outside and avoid returning to prison went under last fall when a federal grant expired. (CommonWealth)

A Lowell Sun editorial says Rep. David Nangle’s decision to oppose the construction of a new high school in his district (he had said he had no preference previously) dramatically complicates an already complicated decision.

There is a lot of talk of taxes on Beacon Hill this year, reports the Globe’s Josh Miller. (Boston Globe) It’s not what the Herald page wants to hear, as it urges the Senate to wave off new taxes and embrace belt tightening in its budget proposal to be unveiled tomorrow. A Sunday Herald editorial decried a House bill filed by Rep. Denise Provost proposing an excise tax on nonprofit endowments above $1 billion.

During the recent House budget debate, taxpayers footed the bill for meals, but getting details on legislative expenditures is not that easy in Massachusetts. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Herald’s Hillary Chabot runs down the state’s recent history of problem-plagued contracts to upgrade various IT systems.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Pembroke, which narrowly rejected the statewide ballot question in November to legalize marijuana, joins the ranks of communities voting to ban the sale of recreational pot. (Patriot Ledger)

Taking a stand against urban violence, more than 1,000 people took the streets in Boston yesterday for the 21st Mother’s Day Walk for Peace to fund the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute. (Boston Herald)

Political activists on the left and right squared off in dueling protests yesterday on Boston Common — with police standing between them. (Boston Herald)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

While all hell was breaking loose over the James Comey firing last week, President Trump quietly signed an executive order creating an Election Integrity Commission to investigate his unsubstantiated allegations that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, depriving him of a popular vote victory. (National Review)

The Supreme Court turned down a request for an appeal of a lower court ruling that knocks down North Carolina’s restrictive voting law. (New York Times)

David Roberts says people may be overanalyzing Trump in trying to understand moves like the Comey firing and that he may be what he appears to be — “a hopeless narcissist with the attention span of a fruit fly, unable to maintain consistent beliefs or commitments from moment to moment, acting on base instinct, entirely situationally, to bolster his terrifyingly fragile ego.” (Vox)

Columnist Sara Weinberger complains US Rep. Richard Neal is nearly impossible to meet. “Congressman Neal, treat us like we matter,” she says. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Columnist Renee Loth decries the EB-5 visa program that Jared Kusher’s sister was touting last week in Beijing that allows rich foreigners to buy a “golden visa.” (Boston Globe)

More than 4,300 Haitians living in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are facing possible expiration of the visa that allowed them to stay in the US following a catastrophic earthquake in their country in 2010. (Boston Globe)

A massive cyberattack has been spreading across the globe since Friday. (Time)

ELECTIONS

Former state representative John Stefanini, a major player in the effort to make Framingham a city and now running to become the first mayor, has been caught on videotape moving an opponent’s unattended campaign display behind a trash can and destroying some materials. (MetroWest Daily News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is following the lead of many tech startups by no longer tracking of limiting the amount of paid vacation employees take. (Boston Globe)

The Tanglewood music festival is a huge economic boon to the Berkshires, says a new study. (Berkshire Eagle)

Two Catholic churches in Worcester decide to share a pastor, but the new leader says the parishes are not merging. (Telegram & Gazette)

EDUCATION

The Westport School Committee voted to open up grades 9 and 12 to out-of-town students on a limited basis but rejected 10th graders fearing some may not be academically prepared and that could affect MCAS scores. (Standard-Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Emergency room wait times are growing at Massachusetts hospitals, in part because of the opioid crisis. (Boston Herald)

TRANSPORTATION

A pickup truck apparently went around a lowered gate on Monday and struck an inbound commuter rail train in Halifax, causing heavy delays. (Patriot Ledger)

CASINOS/GAMBLING

With existing fantasy sports rules set to expire soon, lawmakers are looking at how to regulate the industry — and hefty fees are on the menu. (Eagle-Tribune)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Police are looking into whether spending sprees with counterfeit $100 bills in Brockton, Bridgewater, and West Bridgewater are connected. (The Enterprise)

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Tom Ashbrook takes a break from WBUR’s On Point to deal with a health problem.

 

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Why should taxpayers finance House members’ meals? We already pay them exorbitant salaries for their part-time gig. We give them $15,000 or $20,000 a year as a travel allowance. We shell out our hard earned money for their health insurance. We hand them golden parachutes with great pensions and health benefits. That’s not enough? House Speaker Robert DeLeo, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Probation Department hiring scandal, routinely hands taxpayers the tab for “catered” meals and thanks to the state legislature exempting itself, the judiciary and the governor from the public records law, there’s no transparency for taxpayers to know the legislature’s spending on such things as meals. How about CommonWealth give some space to Common Cause Massachusetts for some much needed commentaries on how transparency should work in this state?