For a good chunk of the past week, the media has been furiously pursuing a story about a December 2 tweet by Donald Trump (image above), in which our Dear Leader typed out, on his chubby little fingers, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”
This caused quite a furor, especially amongst #TheResistance types, because they claim, as a Slate article put it, that in doing so, “Trump may have admitted to something that could get him in trouble in the future because his tweet suggested he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he fired him.” The article was hopefully titled, “Did Trump Just Admit to Obstructing Justice on Twitter?”
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff replied to Trump on Twitter, writing, “If that is true, Mr. President, why did you wait so long to fire Flynn? Why did you fail to act until his lies were publicly exposed? And why did you pressure Director Comey to ‘let this go’?” (Incidentally, Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is actually pretty funny because sources have told me he’s a total moron. Indeed, I’m told that he’s even dumber than the typical member of congress.)
Then came news, as reported by the Washington Post, that it was Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, who drafted the tweet and not Trump Jong-un himself. I’d tell you more about the Post’s story but it’s not available online without a subscription so I only saw Slate‘s brief summary of it, and it’s too much of a hassle to read it for free by opening an Incognito window.
Anyway, everyone is talking about the story but as usual, no one is asking the right questions. So let me help out here.
Maybe Dowd is lying when he says he drafted the tweet, to protect the president. But that would be really dumb to do since he’s a lawyer and this is all part of Robert Mueller’s more-boring-than-watching-paint-dry RussiaGate investigation. So if Dowd made that up, he could have created a big problem for himself.
I have no way of knowing this but let’s assume Dowd is telling the truth, and he did effectively draft the tweet in question. That raises a host of issues and questions.
For example, what other tweets have gone out under the president’s name that he didn’t write? And who wrote them? Who else has had access to Trump’s Blackberry? Former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon or the lunatic National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton, a ghostwriter of some renown?
Twitter is central to how the president communicates with the American people, sort of like FDR’s fireside chats. It was also central to his election victory. Some people cite Trump’s Twitter feed as evidence that he’s off his rocker, which is hard to gainsay.
Look, everyone suspects that most politicians’ Twitter feeds are largely ghostwritten, from Hillary Clinton to Ted Cruz to Bernie Sanders. But the president claims that Twitter is how he best communicates with the people, that it’s unfiltered Trump.
When Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands up, we all know she’s merely Trump’s spokeswoman. But this is different. It seems clear that when he was a businessman Trump was writing his own tweets, and on the campaign trail, too. When his aides threatened to take away his Blackberry to control his tweeting, Trump threw a temper tantrum like a 3-year-old. It was all in character and so it seemed genuine.
So what’s going on here? Are Dowd and others really writing Trump’s tweets? Is Trump actually occupied for a few hours a day running the country, and thus doesn’t have time to tweet like he used to?
Here’s the biggest question of all. If we can’t trust the integrity of Donald Trump’s loopy Twitter, what do we have left? Without that certainty, we are a nation of naked children lost in a storm.
Mr. President, it’s time for a Fireside Chat.