BILLERICA (CBS) – It happened again Tuesday, President Trump defying his lawyers’ advice to avoid tweeting about the special counsel’s investigation. And it reminded us of interviews we did with Trump fans a year ago as Mr. Trump’s 100th day in office approached at a Billerica diner where they all agreed there was one thing that really bothered them about his first months on the job.
“I hate the tweeting,” said one.
“Some of his tweets are kind of crazy,” added another.
No doubt about it, Candidate Trump’s unprecedented use of Twitter during the 2016 campaign was an important element in his success. “I doubt I’d be here if it weren’t for social media,” he said in an interview last year. “You have to keep people interested.”
But while tweeting during the campaign generated buzz and free media and helped him hone his brand, presidents don’t need Twitter to get attention. Still, Mr. Trump hasn’t listened to the allies, lawyers and fellow partisans who’ve begged him to lay off the IPad.
And it has cost him.
He has tweeted sketchy internet content, like an attack on Hillary Clinton inside a Star of David that had to be pulled after complaints about anti-Semitism.
After aides insisted repeatedly that, his executive order banning incoming travel from suspect countries was not a Muslim travel ban but a legitimate reform of the immigration vetting system, he has placed his policy in legal jeopardy with careless tweets that sent those aides scrambling to do damage control. (Some Trump supporters fear he may have done the same with careless tweets about the Russia probe.)
He has angered his own partisans by using Twitter to go after critics most prior presidents would have simply ignored. After his now-infamous outburst against cable TV hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, even a speak-no-evil ally like House Speaker Paul Ryan was moved to say: “What we’re trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate, and this obviously doesn’t help do that.”
And all that damage could have been avoided, if he had just listened to his own fans in that diner a year ago.
As one of the put it: “I would like to see him stop doing that damn Twitter.”