It might be hard to remember now, but presidential Twitter accounts used to be anodyne things, serving up inoffensive sentiments only occasionally written by the chief executive himself.
Then came 2017, the year Americans started to wake up wondering what the president would do on Twitter that day. Rail against his defeated opponent? Muse about the causes of the Civil War? Raise concerns that he was about to start a nuclear conflict?
Trump’s tweets reacted to the news and created more news. Each tweet bred a frenzied news cycle full of outrage and analysis and confusion. North Korean missile launches and the congressional agenda dictated his output as much as Times scoops and Fox & Friends segments.
Even his silence carried weight, leaving America wondering who took away his phone and, once the silence was broken, how he got it back.
This will not change in 2018. But it’s worth looking back at what Trump said — and sometimes conspicuously didn’t say — on Twitter. He doesn’t always author his own tweets, but they do seem to be the truest channel to his moods, his psyche, and his presidency. He has indicated so himself.
And so the most appropriate way to look back at 2017 might be through what the president tweeted. It means highlighting tweets about celebrities alongside threats to start nuclear war, the inconsequential feuds next to the darkest threats — because Trump himself appears to consider them of almost equal gravity.
For the first time, Americans had real-time, seemingly unfiltered access to what the president was thinking. It became commonplace to know if the president woke up angry at an MSNBC host, or at a Republican senator, or at Kim Jong Un. The tweets serve as an often poorly punctuated commentary on the year of news. But they also give a look at the psyche of the man who was driving it.
January 2017: the Steele dossier, John Lewis, and Neil Gorsuch
January 6: Trump starts pushing back against accusations of Russian interference
Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2017
The director of national intelligence released a report January 6 that detailed the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The report confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the campaign, which included the hacks on the DNC and Democratic officials, to try to discredit Hillary Clinton and boost Trump.
In what would become a pattern, Trump appeared to take the report as an affront to his victory rather than a national security concern.
January 10: the infamous Steele dossier surfaces
FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
The publication of the so-called Steele dossier, which included the “pee tape” rumors. Trump continued to slam the reports the next day as “UTTER NONSENSE” and defended himself by saying, “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA.”
January 14: Trump picks a fight with Rep. John Lewis
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) blasted Trump as an “illegitimate president,” which led Trump to attack the civil rights leader on Twitter — the first of a year of many attacks on outspoken and prominent black Americans.
January 30: the moment that made it worth it for conservatives
I have made my decision on who I will nominate for The United States Supreme Court. It will be announced live on Tuesday at 8:00 P.M. (W.H.)— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017
The Supreme Court Twitter tease also proved President Trump hadn’t abandoned his reality TV playbook either, promising a live announcement for his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. His appointment — which required the Senate to deploy the “nuclear option” to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments — was a clear victory for conservatives who held their noses and backed Trump in hopes of getting more conservatives on the Court.
February 2017: bad deals, “easy D,” and Michael Flynn
February 1: a “dumb deal”
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
The president reportedly ripped Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in their first phone call over an Obama-era agreement that the US would accept 1,250 screened and vetted refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centers.
Press secretary Sean Spicer tried to do some damage control, and said the president would honor the agreement —— which Trump quickly complicated by tweeting that he would “study” the deal. It sent a troublesome signal to the world that the US, under Trump, might not make good on its promises and international agreements, and caused friction with one of America’s closest allies.
February 5: a loss in court for the travel ban
Trump’s attacks on the judiciary began as a candidate, but took on a new tinge when he became head of the executive branch. Trump blasted a federal district court judge who issued a temporary restraining order on his travel ban.
Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2017
Trump was vehement on Twitter over the court order, claiming the decision would cause “many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country.”
Then there were the times when Trump’s meaning was pretty clear but the tweet became a joke and a meme anyway:
Big increase in traffic into our country from certain areas, while our people are far more vulnerable, as we wait for what should be EASY D!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
February 14: Flynn is asked to resign — and Trump turns up the volume on leaks
The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2017
Trump’s first public reaction (before this unfiltered press conference) after the firestorm over the firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was asked to resign after it emerged that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his December 2016 conversation with the Russian ambassador. It was the first high-profile axing of the Trump administration, and it came less than a month into Trump’s term, adding weight to charges that his presidency was in chaos and fueling questions about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
March 2017: “witch hunts,” wiretaps, and leakers
March 2: Trump calls the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” at length
Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017
...intentional. This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017
...to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election, and now they have lost their grip on reality. The real story...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017
...is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total "witch hunt!"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017
A Washington Post report revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the Russian ambassador twice during the campaign — a fact he left out in his Senate confirmation hearings. After the revelations, Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe.
March 4: Trump accuses Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Trump lobbed an explosive allegation on Twitter — with zero evidence — that the former president had surveilled Trump Tower. The Obama administration denied the claim, and the FBI and NSA debunked it under oath.
Rep. Devin Nunes later attempted to support Trump’s claim, something he didn’t vet with his colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee — and later backtracked on. The whole episode demonstrated how far some on the Hill were willing to go to defend Trump, even as they were supposedly investigating Russian interference in the election.
March 20: “No evidence Potus colluded”
The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
In retrospect, Trump’s Twitter account in March shows just how much things were heating up on the Russia investigation — and how vehemently Trump tried to deny the unfolding story. After then-FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee and confirmed the FBI was investigating, Trump again amped up his rhetoric against leaks.
March 25: “ObamaCare will explode”
ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act, the unpopular Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, on March 24. Trump, meanwhile, was rooting for the failure of the Affordable Care Act, something he wouldn’t just cheer for but would actively try to bring about.
April 2017: unmasking and missile strikes
April 3: the wiretapping controversy becomes an unmasking controversy
Trump’s attempts to flip the narrative away from the Russia investigation and focus on the bogus claims that Obama administration wiretapped him during the campaign sparked a few days’ worth of tweets. The allegation was that former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice allegedly “unmasked” Trump associates — that she had asked intelligence agents to reveal the names of Trump transition officials who were in contact with foreign agents.
This wasn’t proof that Rice illegally spied on the Trump campaign, or even an accusation that she committed a crime. But that didn’t stop the controversy from dominating conservative media for days.
April 8: Trump defends a missile strike on Twitter
The reason you don't generally hit runways is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2017
Trump ordered a limited cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, firing 59 Tomahawk missiles from a US warship on April 6. The administration launched the attack in response to reports that the Syrian government had used poison gas against civilians. Trump had campaigned against involvement in Syria (and criticized Obama on this point), and his sudden action raised early questions as to Trump’s foreign policy goals.
Trump himself didn’t address the strike directly until about 48 hours later, first congratulating the military and then defending the decision not to bomb the runways at the Syrian airbase.
May 2017: bad history, the Comey firing, and “covfefe”
May 1: some really bad Civil War history
President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War started, saw it coming and was angry. Would never have let it happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017
The rest of the month would bring much bigger news, but Trump started May by musing in an interview with SiriusXM’s Salena Zito about the Civil War (“People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question.”) Then he doubled down on Twitter, claiming that if Andrew Jackson had been president, the Civil War never would have happened.
A refresher before we continue: The Civil War was about slavery; many, many people have asked and argued about why the Civil War happened; Jackson, a slaveholder, was extremely unlikely to have solved the crisis.
May 8: the Flynnvestigation gains steam
Sally Yates made the fake media extremely unhappy today --- she said nothing but old news!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
The former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that she had warned the White House that Michael Flynn might have been “compromised” and vulnerable to Russian blackmail after he misrepresented his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.
She warned the White House at the end of January — more than two weeks before Flynn was officially fired. Trump wanted to focus on the leaks and the Russia hoax, but her testimony raised more questions about how and why Flynn stayed on the job for as long as he did.
Then the biggest news of the month (and arguably the year) happened offscreen: Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
May 9: the Comey aftermath
Cryin' Chuck Schumer stated recently, "I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer." Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
Trump’s stated reason for axing Comey was his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, an explanation that didn’t quite hold up — and then Trump finally confirmed it, by admitting he fired the FBI director because of the Russia investigation.
But even before the American public knew the extent of the complications around Comey’s firing — Trump’s admission, Comey’s leak of his contemporaneous memos, the eventual appointment of a special prosecutor — Trump didn’t quite seem prepared for the backlash. The morning after Comey’s firing, he unleashed an early morning tweetstorm that mocked Democrats for their outrage over Comey, saying that “when things clam down, they will be thanking me.” (That might be the case, depending on what ultimately happens with the investigation. But it won’t be the way Trump meant.)
May 12: Trump claims there are tapes. Comey sure hopes so.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Trump threatened Comey with alleged recordings of conversations, which only fueled the inevitable Nixon comparisons. The sinister tweet also put Trump in a bind — he’d likely face a subpoena or be caught in a bizarre lie. Or, as James Comey testified in June: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
May 16: Trump gives classified information to the Russians
As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
...to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
Trump, in a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, did little to put any suspicions to rest. He reportedly told the Russian ambassador that firing the “nut job” Comey had “taken off” the great pressure he felt about Russia.
Then the president reportedly bragged about his “great intelligence,” telling the delegation, according to the Washington Post, “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” and decided to prove it by sharing classified intelligence about an ISIS bomb plot. The source reportedly came from Israeli intelligence, and divulging it to the Russians endangered the life of an Israeli spy.
Also, the only journalist in the room was a photographer from Russia’s state news agency.
May 17: Robert Mueller becomes special prosecutor
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation after Sessions recused himself, appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special prosecutor.
May 31: “covfefe”
Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
Trump deleted his original tweet, which read, “despite the negative press covfefe” and dropped off to nothingness. The intended word was likely “coverage,” but for a little while, Trump Twitter was kind of fun. Until it wasn’t.
May 31: the US leaves the Paris climate accords
I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2017
Spoiler alert: America leaves the landmark Paris climate agreement. "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump declared in a Rose Garden ceremony. The administration has since teased staying in the agreement on new terms, but for now, the US will stand alone as the sole country outside the pact. (Yes, even Syria joined.)
June 2017: Comey, collusion, and “bleeding badly from a face-lift”
June 9: “total and complete vindication”
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2017
June 14: a gunman opens fire on Republican members of Congress
Just left hospital. Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape - but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
A gunman opened fire on a baseball field where GOP lawmakers and their colleagues were practicing for the congressional baseball game. The shooter, who was killed by police, badly wounded Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and four others. It was a brazen and violent attack on lawmakers, putting Congress on edge, and Trump, in one of his first tests as “consoler-in-chief,” called for unity.
June 15: Trump reacts to a reported investigation into obstruction of justice
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, 'bleached' emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
After it was revealed that Mueller was investigating Trump for potential obstruction of justice, Trump went on a dramatic tweetstorm — about Hillary Clinton.
June 20: Trump insists the special election is actually great news for the GOP
Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2017
Trump gloated over Republicans’ victories in special elections, including the June 20 GOP victory in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in special election that drew national attention because Democrats eyed it as an opportunity to flip a GOP district where Trump underperformed in 2016. This gambit failed, but the election signaled that an energized Democratic Party was ready to mount serious challenges in regions previously dominated by the GOP.
June 29: “low I.Q. Crazy Mika”
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
No matter how much Trump might deny that he watches cable news, his Twitter feed is obvious evidence to the contrary.
Trump slammed Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski in a series of tweets, which lawmakers criticized as “beneath” the office of the presidency. The White House defended Trump’s remarks, and Trump Brzezinski and her co-host and fiancé, Joe Scarborough, wrote a Washington Post op-ed that accused Trump of trying to manipulate them into begging him to stop a tabloid story about the hosts’ relationship.
The hosts discussed their op-ed on the show, and Trump tuned in that morning to say that was “FAKE NEWS” and that Scarborough had begged him to stop the story. Scarborough fired back, and so the feud went, though Trump did at least admit that “crazy” Scarborough and “dumb as a rock” Brzezinski were “not bad people.”
...whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
After all that, Trump casually admits that those Comey “tapes” do not exist. Lordy.
July 2017: alt-right CNN GIFs and the trans ban
July 2: the most retweeted Trump tweet of the year
Trump’s most retweeted tweet of the year came on July 2, an edited wrestling clip to show him beating up a CNN logo, his frequent “fake news media” target. Some journalists found the tweet chilling, speaking to Trump’s larger hostility to the independent press. The GIF was traced back to an alt-right Reddit group.
July 9: Trump meets with Putin and denies Russian election meddling
I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
...We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
Trump claimed the biggest talking point at the G20 summit at Hamburg was the DNC hack, but it was really the president’s first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A day before their sit-down, Trump cast doubt on the American intelligence community’s assessment of Russian hacking in the 2016 election. "I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it well could have been other countries and I won't be specific,” he told reporters at a press conference, adding, “nobody really knows for sure.”
Trump’s meeting with Putin lasted more than two hours, and the two reportedly discussed Russian interference in the elections and the civil war in Syria. But what exactly was said about those topics caused the problem: Trump reportedly accepted Putin’s denials that Russia didn’t interference in the 2016 election, as the US Congress prepared to slap Russia with more sanctions for just that.
July 17: Trump reacts to a bombshell report on his son’s meeting with Russians
Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2017
The next twist in the Russia investigation came with a New York Times report on a private meeting June 2016 at Trump Tower between Russian nationals and members of Trump’s campaign team, arranged by Donald Trump Jr. The Times’s next scoop said Don Jr. was offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, and he was informed it was part of a Russian government effort to help his dad. Don Jr. preempted the next scoop — the communications about that meeting — and released those emails himself, including his response that “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
July 26: Trump bans trans people from the military — in tweets that led to fears he was about to start a nuclear war
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Trump makes real policy on Twitter, after announcing a ban on transgender military troops serving in the military. The nearly 10 minutes between tweets had some nervous Trump was about to declare war on North Korea on Twitter, but what resulted was almost as unexpected. Military officials said Trump hadn’t consulted with them (Secretary of Defense James Mattis was on vacation) about the decision to reverse the Obama-era policy.
The confounding tweet put trans service members in limbo for months. In August, the Trump administration put out guidance that basically reverted to the pre-Obama policy but gave Mattis some authority to decide the status of openly trans troops already serving. As of December, a court had blocked the order, and trans service men and women can enlist openly as of January 1 — though the Trump administration could challenge that ruling.
July 28: “Let Obamacare implode, then deal”
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
Trump can’t resist an opportunity to claim he was right all along, and after Obamacare repeal was dramatically defeated in the Senate, he began pushing to let the law, which insures millions of Americans, fail.
August 2017: the Charlottesville fallout
August 2: a petty argument about whether the White House is a dump
I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen. But Fake News said I called it a dump - TOTALLY UNTRUE— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2017
These quick, angry tweets are rarely the most important news of the day, and they arguably capture too much attention in the moment. But they’re worth including because of the picture they paint of the president’s character. Trump’s Twitter account reveals him to be a man obsessed with petty grievances, ready to claim any negative report about him is a lie, and willing to air those grievances in an unprecedented manner for a president. (Remember when President Obama called Kanye West a “jackass” during his first year in office, sparking a multi-day controversy about whether the president should say such a thing?)
August 11: Trump implies nuclear war could be just around the corner
Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2017
Tensions with North Korea escalated during the spring and summer as Pyongyang kept at its missile tests. In early August, the United Nations passed new sanctions against North Korea, which responded, as it typically does, with bellicose boasting.
Then on August 8, Trump responded in kind, threatening North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” North Korea responded by warning of a strike on Guam, a US territory. Trump escalated that even further with his “locked and loaded” tweet — irresponsibly implying the US is ready for war, and putting a nuclear strike back on the list of things to worry about.
August 12: “ — but Charlottesville sad!”
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
White nationalists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in perhaps one of Trump’s most contentious moment as president, he denounced violence on “many” sides in prepared remarks after one of the white nationalists drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman. His statement drew harsh criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. Trump later tweeted condolences to the “family of the young woman killed” and offered “best regards” to all those injured in Charlottesville.
August 14: Trump condemns “racist violence” — and then backtracks
Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied...truly bad people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
Trump issued a belated statement on Monday, August 14, condemning “racist violence” that fit a familiar pattern of him disavowing something way too late. And then on Tuesday, at a press conference in Trump Tower, he undermined his scripted statement by claiming again there were ”some very fine people on both sides,” referring to both the white nationalist demonstrators and the counterprotesters.
August 17: Trump stands up for Confederate monuments
Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
...can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson - who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
...the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
After the violence in Charlottesville, the conversation quickly turned to the Confederate statues that pepper America’s landscape. Trump was on the side of the Confederate monuments, missing the point that while the founders were imperfect, they did something worth remembering — while the Confederate generals are commemorated for their support of secession, slavery, and white supremacy.
August 17: Trump casually calls for war crimes
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Trump reacts to a terror attack in Barcelona by referring to a fake story about General Pershing shooting Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. There’s no evidence that this actually happened; the Philippines weren’t immediately pacified; and if this were to happen today, executing prisoners would count as a war crime.
September 2017: DACA, Puerto Rico, and the NFL
September 5: Trump ends protection for DREAMers — and tweets at Congress
Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
On September 5, the Trump administration said it would cancel protections for about 800,000 DREAMers — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Based on the order, the program ends in March 2018, and no new applicants can sign up in the meantime. Congress has yet to make a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, though Trump, after making the announcement in September, later tweeted a cryptic line about DACA that said if Congress can’t fix the program in six months, I will “revisit this issue!”
The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
Trump’s “Rocket Man” nickname for Kim Jong Un had already been rolled out on Twitter and at the United Nations, but adding “little” gave it new life — and fed into one of the most powerful forces in North Korea: anti-Americanism.
September 23: Trump picks a fight with the NFL
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Trump slams NFL players who kneel for the national anthem at a Friday rally for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange. The next day he picks a Twitter fight with NBA star Steph Curry, and continues his tirade against the NFL, saying that players should be fired for expressing their opinions.
September 25: Puerto Rico “was already suffering from broken infrastructure”
Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
...It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
While the president was busy slamming the NFL, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands were reeling from Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Puerto Rico September 20 and flung the island territories into crisis. Trump, facing criticism over his handling of the disaster, criticized Puerto Rico’s poor state before the storm hit.
Trump wasn’t completely wrong about Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. But it’s telling that in the aftermath of disaster, his first instinct was to blame the victims. As the disaster unfolded, he continued to insist that the island was “doing great.”
October 2017: fights with a GOP senator and a Gold Star widow
October 8: Sen. Bob Corker warns Trump could start World War III
Senator Bob Corker "begged" me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said "NO" and he dropped out (said he could not win without...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
..my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said "NO THANKS." He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
...Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn't have the guts to run!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, was asked about the drama between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump in early October. His response contained an implicit rebuke of Trump, which might have prompted Trump to go after the retiring senator on Twitter a few days later. Corker responded with a dig about “adult day care” and later told the New York Times in an interview that Trump’s actions could set America on the “path to World War III.” Trump sort of blamed the Times for that one.
Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
Trump takes his media attacks a step further, with a (not exactly credible) threat to revoke broadcast licenses.
October 18: Trump fights with a Gold Star widow and her member of Congress
Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
Four Green Berets were killed in a special operation in Niger on October 4. The mysterious circumstances of their deaths were at times overshadowed by a controversy over how the president treated the families of the fallen soldiers. It escalated after Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) said Trump’s comments to the widow of one of the deceased service members, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, were insensitive, after he told the widow her husband “knew what he signed up for.” Trump denied Wilson’s account.
The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2017
It might have ended there, but Johnson’s own family backed up Wilson’s account, and Trump’s chief of staff had to clarify. He didn’t dispute what Trump said but defended his intentions.
I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
It didn’t end there, either. Johnson’s widow spoke publicly about the call with Trump, saying it left her “upset and hurt” because he appeared not to remember her husband’s name.
October 30: “... Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
....Also, there is NO COLLUSION!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
Paul Manafort, Trumps former campaign chair, and his associate Rick Gates are indicted for money laundering and other charges related to their work for the Ukrainian government. They are the first indictments to come from special counsel Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference.
November: “Al Frankenstien” and LaVar Ball
November 1: a terror attack in New York City
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
A vehicular attack in New York City by an ISIS-inspired terrorist gives Trump a distraction from the Mueller indictments, and gets him going on his favorite topic. The suspect, an Uzbek immigrant, reportedly received a visa through the diversity lottery, which becomes one of Trump’s new punching bags.
November 16: Trump is very concerned about Al Franken’s alleged groping
The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? .....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2017
.And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2017
Trump, himself accused of multiple accounts of sexual harassment, goes after Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), as the #MeToo movement sweeps Congress. Trump is quick to make hay out of the allegations, which eventually forced Franken from office.
November 22: Trump versus LaVar Ball
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
...LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
Perhaps Trump’s first real feud of the 280-character-tweet era, this one, as with others, unfolds over days. It began with three UCLA players arrested for shoplifting in China, one of them the son of basketball’s most contentious dad, LaVar Ball. Trump, on his Asia trip at the time, helped negotiate their release. He demanded an apology, and got one, but the inevitable ego clash between Ball and Trump meant it didn’t go away.
December 2017: obstruction of justice
December 2: did Trump admit to obstruction of justice on Twitter?
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
Trump stayed mum on the Friday his former national security adviser had agreed to plead guilty to the FBI for lying about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, the biggest development in Mueller’s Russia investigation so far.
But by Saturday, Trump broke his silence, tweeting, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” But Trump had never before said he fired Flynn because he lied to the FBI — which meant that if Trump did know, then his decision to allegedly press Comey to “see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go” perhaps takes on a new meaning. Trump’s legal team, however, said he didn’t write the tweet himself.
December 3: Trump gets ammunition against Mueller
Report: “ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE” Now it all starts to make sense!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017
The New York Times reported December 2 that Mueller’s team fired an FBI agent from the Russia probe over anti-Trump texts. Trump and his defenders seized on this as proof of partisan bias in the special counsel’s investigation.
December 4: Trump makes it clear he’s endorsing Moore
Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2017
Trump had defended Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after he was accused of sexual misconduct ahead of the special election December 12. But he offered his outright endorsement on Twitter, while attacking his opponent as a “puppet.”
December 12: Trump’s sexist jab at a New York senator
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
As Congress grappled with its sexual harassment scandals, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on Trump to resign over his own sexual misconduct allegations. Trump returned fire, but some critics interpreted his line that she would “do anything” for a contribution as sexist and as insinuating that the senator used her sexuality to solicit donations.
December 23: Trump revives attacks on the FBI deputy director
How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2017
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2017
Trump has gone after FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe over this before, but he revived his attack right before Christmas. At issue: McCabe’s wife ran for a state Senate seat in Virginia in 2015, backed in part with money provided by the state Democratic Party and Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's PAC. Trump and his defenders also used this as ammunition for his claim that the FBI and the Russia investigation are biased against him. Trump likely brought it up again as, per his second tweet, McCabe is planning to retire in March.
Seven months after Trump fired the FBI director, he also gave him a nickname: Leakin’ James Comey.
December 24: Trump wins the war on Christmas
People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 25, 2017
Trump said we would say it again.
It all seems important in the moment — and that’s the point
One thing about Trump tweets: Many feel urgent in the moment, but sometimes less so with time. 2017 alone contained so many controversies that it’s almost impossible to remember them all. Then there’s Trump’s habit of routinely tweeting about the mundane (Fox News segments, UCLA basketball players) alongside the deadly serious (North Korea’s nuclear tests, the Russia investigation). The result is an unpredictable cacophony — you never know, on any given day, if the president is going to be railing at Kim Jong Un or at a member of his own party. He is capable of being as seemingly, vehemently preoccupied with NFL players’ peaceful protest as he is with the progress of his legislative agenda in Congress.
With hindsight, though, narratives begin to emerge. One thread is Trump’s strident, angry denials that Russia had anything to do with his victory. Another is his insistence, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that everything is working exactly as he planned it.
Meanwhile, the president is exiting 2017 with a Twitter tour de force: He again falsely claimed the tax bill’s repeal of the individual mandate “essentially Repeals (over time)” Obamacare; tweeted fake math about his administration’s gains against ISIS, deleted that tweet and replaced it with the correct version, and later retweeted another version of the tweet with the same bad math; revived his feud with Vanity Fair; and accused Amazon of swindling the US Postal Service.
Happy New Year’s Eve from the president of the United States:
In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017