As president-elect, Donald Trump said he’d be “very restrained” in his use of Twitter once he took the oath of office.
But 100 tweets into the Trump presidency, the @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed remains a freewheeling electronic space where the new commander in chief pushes back at the media, tosses bouquets and brickbats, makes 140-character policy arguments, warns leaders from Iran to Chicago and promotes his upcoming TV appearances and unsubstantiated voter-fraud theories.
Trump tweeted for the 100th time as president on Sunday. He hit the century mark at 3:39 p.m. with a tweet saying he “instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!”
Part-time Palm Beach resident Trump’s tweeting continues a presidential tradition at least as old as Franklin Roosevelt’s using the new medium of radio to take his case directly to the public in the 1930s. Eight decades later, FDR’s “fireside chats” have been replaced by Trumpian flamethrower bursts that can ignite several simultaneous conflagrations.
Before 8 a.m. on Friday, for instance, Trump had unleashed six tweets. He jabbed Arnold Schwarzenegger over “Celebrity Apprentice” ratings, told Iran it is “playing with fire,” decried “FAKE NEWS” in the media, touted an upcoming meeting at the White House with business leaders, blasted “professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters” and urged America to “GET SMART” about Islamic terrorism after a machete attack in Paris.
It was a prolific, but not particularly unusual, morning for the president. More than half of Trump’s presidential tweeting is done outside conventional business hours. More than half his tweets end with an exclamation point. And more than one-quarter of his Twitter posts put at least one word in all capital letters for emphasis.
In looking at Trump’s first 100 presidential tweets, The Palm Beach Post monitored his @realDonaldTrump account, which Trumpologists consider the best window into the part-time Palm Beacher’s psyche. A handful of deleted tweets weren’t counted. Nor did The Post count tweets from the @POTUS45 account that came with the presidency and tends to be filled with official pronouncements and retweets of @realDonaldTrump material.
Using the search engine at TrumpTwitterArchive.com, here are some highlights from first 100 tweets of the Trump presidency:
— Although Trump hasn’t used his trademark “Sad!” sign-off since becoming president, he still loves to end his tweets with an exclamation point. Fifty-six of his first 100 tweets end that way, including an “I will send in the Feds!” warning to Chicago over its violence and “Strong!” to conclude a tweet commending Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for cooperating with federal policies against “sanctuary cities.”
— Trump put a word or words in all capital letters in 29 of his first 100 tweets. That includes five mentions of “FAKE NEWS” when criticizing the media.
— Famous for lobbing Twitter grenades at a former Miss Universe between 5:14 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. during the campaign, Trump so far has managed to refrain from pre-6 a.m. tweeting as president. He has tweeted 16 times between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., a dozen times between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and 14 times between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. An additional 23 Trump tweets have come after 6 p.m.
— The longest period of presidential Twitter silence for Trump was nearly 24 hours, from a 6:38 a.m. tweet on Jan. 23 — his first full weekday in office — to a tweet at 6:11 a.m. the next day.
— Trump has tweeted 20 times about his controversial executive order halting refugee admissions and travel from seven countries. On Saturday, he called the federal judge who halted the travel ban a “so-called judge.” On Sunday, Trump said, “If something happens, blame him and the court system.”
— Trump has used Twitter to honor fallen Navy SEAL Ryan Owens and remember the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. He’s also used it to take shots at “ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning,” Democrats Nancy Pelosi and “Fake Tears Chuck Schumer,” and Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Trump reminded Twitter followers that McCain and Graham are “former presidential candidates.”
— As president-elect, Trump caused an uproar with his unsubstantiated claim on Twitter that he would have received more popular votes than Hillary Clinton if not for “millions of people who voted illegally.” President Trump rekindled the controversy Jan. 25 when he called on Twitter for “a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD.” He later tweeted a mention of a man who claims 3 million people voted illegally but hasn’t produced evidence to back it up.
— Sometimes Trump’s Twitter feed looks like a standard politician’s. He’s used Twitter more than a dozen times to promote upcoming events or his own media appearances. On his first two days in office, Trump mainly tweeted excerpts from his inaugural address.
“On inauguration day and the day after he was tweeting out nice things, mainly just about the moment and what it meant to the country…Then he saw the protests,” said Brendan Brown, a Boston computer programmer and Bernie Sanders supporter who launched TrumpTwitterArchive.com to create an historical record of Trump’s tweets.
After millions of people participated in anti-Trump protests across the U.S. on Jan. 21, Trump tweeted: “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”
Later, Trump added a tweet calling peaceful protests “a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”
Trump’s Twitter origins
Trump launched his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account in 2009 to promote his “Celebrity Apprentice” show on NBC. His Twitter feed later became a clearinghouse for birther conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama and then, in 2015, a powerful campaign tool as Trump sought the presidency.
Trump had about 3 million Twitter followers when he announced his candidacy in June 2015 and 13 million followers on Election Day. The @realDonaldTrump account now has 23.7 million followers.
After Trump’s stunning Nov. 8 election victory, some counseled Trump to change his Twitter habits.
“The president of the United States can’t randomly tweet without having somebody check it out … He should tweet, but he ought to have an editorial board in between the first draft and sending it,” former House Speaker and Trump ally Newt Gingrich told USA Today.
But Trump continues to see Twitter as a valuable outlet.
“You like the tweeting, right?” Trump said to a supporter who greeted him at Palm Beach International Airport on Friday. “It’s the only way you get the real truth.”
Trump’s tweets are almost literally music to the ears of Sue Snowden, a longtime Republican activist from Boca Raton who took the unpaid position of county chairwoman for Trump’s campaign in the fall of 2015. Snowden has set her smartphone to chime whenever Trump has a new tweet.
“I wake up smiling every day,” Snowden said Friday after watching Trump’s arrival at PBIA. “My phone at 6 o’clock, 6:30, goes ‘bing bing bing’ and I know Donald Trump is up telling me what’s going on and I am loving it. I mean loving it.”