President Trump clearly didn’t resolve to change his Twitter habits this year.
With nine disparate tweets over three hours on Tuesday morning, the first working day of 2018, Trump continued to exploit social media to be the most aggressive commentator in chief in American history. For any other president, his posts would have made for a monumental day of (mis-)statements. Yet for Trump, the series — attacks on political foes and media, provocations of foreign leaders and self-praise for events he had nothing to do with — was all but unremarkable.
His Twitter barrage — sent between 7:09 a.m. and 10:16 a.m. — reflected a familiar gamut after nearly a year in office:
Attacks on political foes: Nearly 14 months after his election, Trump called for the jailing of Huma Abedin, “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid” (his misspelling, another occasional feature of Trump tweets). In the same tweet, he disparaged the “Deep State Justice Dept,” headed of course by his appointees, calling on it to “act” against James B. Comey, the FBI director he fired for investigating “the Russia thing.”
Diplomatic provocations: Trump again called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket man,” ridiculed the volatile nuclear-armed foe for recent military defections and openly speculated about potential talks between North and South Korea.
“Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not — we will see!” Trump wrote.
Later Tuesday, Trump said in a Twitter message: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
Also later Tuesday, Trump tweeted an attack on Pakistan, his second in as many days, and added a new one against Palestinians.
Undermining media: Trump offered “Congratulations!” to A.G. Sulzberger, who took over as publisher of the New York Times this week. But the two-part post was really yet another slam against a perceived media foe: Trump said the paper had a “last chance” to fulfill its journalistic mission, and accused it of relying on phony sources and substandard reporters — just days after he granted another exclusive interview to the paper. As a bonus, the tweet contained a recycled falsehood, that the paper apologized after the election for reporting on him unfairly. It didn’t.
Trump later said on Twitter that he would soon announce the “most dishonest & corrupt media awards of the year…. Stay tuned!”
Taking credit: Trump congratulated himself for policing the border with Mexico, an area where his policies and anti-immigration rhetoric are believed to have had some effect on reducing illegal crossings. He took credit for employee bonuses by companies after he signed Republican tax cuts into law last month
But the jaw-dropper was Trump congratulating himself for planes not crashing.
“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation,” he wrote. “Good news — it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”
It was the safest year on record worldwide, but the American streak without commercial jet passenger deaths goes back to 2009. Trump, who has promoted deregulation as one of his top accomplishments, has not signed off on any new airline safety regulations. The White House pointed to new security screening of passengers, to electronic devices to prevent terrorist attacks and to Trump’s support for privatizing air traffic control — a proposal that has gotten nowhere in Congress.
Falsehoods: Trump said President Obama, in brokering the 2015 nuclear arms limitation deal with Iran, “foolishly” gave money to the “brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” He didn’t. The nuclear deal, which included major U.S. allies as signators, released Iran’s own funds that had long been frozen.
Trump’s art of the deal: When Trump sees a big deal looming, he often blasts the other side — to gain leverage, as he’s written. This week he resumes a showdown with Democratic lawmakers over funding the government and immigration protections for so-called Dreamers brought to the country illegally as children.
Trump, who in September ordered a gradual end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, sought to shift blame for the resulting controversy, saying “Democrats are doing nothing for DACA” and are “just interested in politics.”