Trump’s First Big Twitter Day of 2018: Analyzing Nuclear Buttons and the ‘Corrupt Media’
Posted January 3, 2018 12:35 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump kicked off the new year with more than a dozen Twitter posts castigating his enemies and political foes and complimenting himself.
Seventeen times on his first work day of the new year in Washington, the president thumbed his thumbs at convention. The objects of his attention had a vast and seemingly disconnected range, from taunting Kim Jong Un about his nuclear prowess to flaunting his own successes. But there was more. He made an only-in-the-Trump-era kind of news by announcing a reality-style creation unique in presidential history: awards for the “most dishonest & corrupt media.”
He also threw in a couple of posts that were utterly bland in comparison, good wishes to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, who announced his retirement, and a pledge of support for the nation’s veterans. He also showed a fixated consistency by again railing against “crooked” Hillary Clinton and her aide, Huma Abedin.
If there was a strategy to his post-vacation social media burst, it was not readily apparent.
“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”
Trump started his first workday back in Washington after vacationing at his resort in Florida with one of his favorite — and debunked — attacks on the Obama administration: that former President Barack Obama gave Iranians money that helped finance terrorism. In two weeks, Trump will face deadlines on whether to reinstate U.S. sanctions that the Obama administration lifted as part of a nuclear deal. However, there is currently political unrest in Iran, and analysts worry that if Trump pulls out of the deal, Iranians could shift blame from the regime to the United States.
Revisiting ‘Crooked Hillary’
“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others”
Less than 48 hours into the new year, Trump called his one-time political opponent, Hillary Clinton, “Crooked Hillary” and said his own Justice Department was a shadowy deep state. Almost 14 months after the election, Trump has kept up a regular drumbeat of attacks on Clinton. His criticism of the Justice Department suggests his attacks on his own attorney general will continue in 2018.
Building the Wall
“Thank you to Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council for your kind words on how well we are doing at the Border. We will be bringing in more & more of your great folks and will build the desperately needed WALL! @foxandfriends”
Then, Trump praised the National Border Patrol Council for praising his administration. The Border Patrol Council, a union representing about 18,000 agents and agency employees, has long supported the president and his pledge to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The union endorsed him during the election. Shortly before Trump cinched the Republican nomination, he was interviewed on the union’s podcast and said, “I have you 100 percent in my mind and I have your back, believe me.”
The Tax Overhaul
“Companies are giving big bonuses to their workers because of the Tax Cut Bill. Really great!”
The president patted himself on the back for the passage of the tax legislation that he said has led to bonuses for workers around Christmas. Companies such as AT&T and Comcast announced plans to give workers bonuses tied directly to the changes in tax law. Some companies may be trying to get on his good side. For instance, AT&T is locked in an antitrust fight with Trump’s Justice Department over its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
The Korean Divide
“Sanctions and ‘other’ pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!”
Trump offered tepid support for a diplomatic solution with North Korea, citing a peace overture between the North and South. Trump took this opportunity to revive his derisive nickname for North Korea’s leader, Kim, “Rocket man.” Stay tuned: Ten hours later, Trump raises the stakes and threatens the nuclear option.
Taking Credit on Aviation Safety
“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”
Taking credit for the friendly skies would be an improbable feat for the president whose proposed policy change for air traffic control is currently stalled in Congress.
‘The Failing New York Times’
“The Failing New York Times has a new publisher, A.G. Sulzberger. Congratulations! Here is a last chance for the Times to fulfill the vision of its Founder, Adolph Ochs, ‘to give the news impartially, without fear or FAVOR, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved.’ Get...
“....impartial journalists of a much higher standard, lose all of your phony and non-existent ‘sources,’ and treat the President of the United States FAIRLY, so that the next time I (and the people) win, you won’t have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done! GL”
Trump has painted the same brush strokes repeatedly in his first year in office, casting the news media as a villainous force unwilling to recognize his accomplishments. He has frequently targeted The New York Times and has bestowed a Trumpian nickname of “the failing New York Times” for effect.
Just 33 hours in the new year, he delivered a push me-pull you message to The Times’s new publisher, A.G. Sulzberger. Trump incorrectly characterized the paper as failing financially, then offered a form of congratulations to Sulzberger, followed by another appeal to be treated better. He also incorrectly stated that The Times had issued an apology for its coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign.
A Program for Young Immigrants
“Democrats are doing nothing for DACA - just interested in politics. DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start ‘falling in love’ with Republicans and their President! We are about RESULTS.”
The president then blamed Democrats for inaction to protect immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, a cohort referred to “Dreamers.” Trump has wavered on whether he would work with Democrats to strike a deal on the program, an Obama-era holdover known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He essentially extended the program by calling an end to it in September and giving Congress six months to come up with a permanent solution. The topic is expected to come up during a meeting between the president and congressional Republicans on Wednesday.
“We will not rest until all of America’s GREAT VETERANS can receive the care they so richly deserve. Tremendous progress has been made in a short period of time. Keep up the great work @SecShulkin @DeptVetAffairs! https://instagram.com/p/BddOPJfAngh/”
Trump reminded the country about how he has already helped veterans, including signing a bill that makes it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to remove bad employees. Trump posted a video compilation of him signing veterans-related legislation and speaking with veterans.
Kind Words for a Senator
“Congratulations to Senator Orrin Hatch on an absolutely incredible career. He has been a tremendous supporter, and I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President. He is my friend and he will be greatly missed in the U.S. Senate!”
Hatch, the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced Tuesday he would retire at the end of the year. Trump had urged Hatch, 83, to seek an eighth term. The vacancy opens the door to Mitt Romney, a frequent Trump critic with an extensive network, to occupy a potential swing vote in the Senate.
Foreign Relations With Pakistan, Israel and the Palestinians
“It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue...
“...peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
The Trump administration has been frustrated with what it sees as a lack of support from Pakistan in rooting out terrorists — most recently with Islamabad’s refusal to give the U.S. access to a captured militant who could provide intelligence on at least one American hostage. The United States is withholding $255 million in aid until Pakistan does more to combat terrorism.
A Bigger ‘Nuclear Button’
“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!”
In a stark contrast to language the president used in a Twitter post Tuesday morning, Trump’s threat of nuclear war with North Korea spooked some lawmakers, diplomats and national security experts, but also elicited their scorn for its juvenile and frightening tone. The wording was reminiscent of a boast he made during the presidential campaign that his hands, and by extension his genitals, were big enough.
Assaulting the News Media
“I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!”
Trump signaled that he will continue his habit of labeling news networks as “fake” and “dishonest” when he or his administration receives unfavorable coverage. These promised awards make good on a vision the president, a former reality television star, articulated in late November when he suggested there be such a contest.
A Promotion, Later Deleted
“Watch @seanhannity tonight at 9:00 P.M.”
Sean Hannity opened his 9 p.m. show on Fox with five minutes of praise for the president. “Despite vicious media attack and many political obstacles, 2017 was a very successful first year for President Trump.” Under the headline “Trump’s Accomplishments,” Hannity discussed the rising economy, homeownership rates and the fight against the Islamic State group. With less regulation and the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, he said, “you have a recipe for a Reagan-style economic explosion.”
Trump later deleted this tweet.
A Pat on the Back
“'President Trump has something now he didn’t have a year ago, that is a set of accomplishments that nobody can deny. The accomplishments are there, look at his record, he has had a very significant first year.’ @LouDobbs Show,David Asman & Ed Rollins”
As the news media and the national security establishment scrambled to cover Trump’s late-night threat of nuclear war with North Korea, the president ended his day — one with no public events — with a final Twitter post praising his first year successes.