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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Emergency room wait times are growing at Massachusetts hospitals, in part because of the opioid crisis. (Boston Herald)
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)
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)
Police are looking into whether spending sprees with counterfeit $100 bills in Brockton, Bridgewater, and West Bridgewater are connected. (The Enterprise)
MEDIATom Ashbrook takes a break from WBUR’s On Point to deal with a health problem.