One day after appearing to leverage the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting to try to attack the FBI over the ongoing Mueller investigation, President Donald Trump launched into a tweetstorm expanding on the topic. On Sunday morning, the president sent out a series of tweets continuing to fixate on the investigation, calling it a “hoax,” attacking former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and urging America to “get smart.”
Trump, like almost all politicians, does not actually write all of his own tweets. In some cases, his social media manager Dan Scavino apparently takes the helm, writing in a faux-Trump style. While it can’t be definitively said whether Trump wrote the following tweets himself, this Sunday morning tweetstorm seemed particularly Trumpian in its combative and defensive tone:
Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
By “get smart,” the implication seems to be that the country should unite as one to dismiss the merits of the Russia investigation, which has so far led to indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign staffer (and Manafort aide) Rick Gates, and 13 indictments against Russian nationals. Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn is also reportedly cooperating with the investigation after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
On Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told the press that the indictments against Russians did not vindicate Trump. It’s not totally clear in what sense they could even be argued to have vindicated the president, and Schiff denied as much, telling CNN “this is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes.”
Trump clearly seized on Schiff’s comments that the Obama administration didn’t do enough to combat Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Obama reportedly wanted to more aggressively publicize the information in the run-up to Election Day, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to portray the effort as inherently partisan, and Obama backed off.
Trump’s tweetstorm would be controversial on any occasion, but it’s drawing increased scrutiny by virtue of its proximity to the Parkland shooting. In the days following the shooting, Trump has taken to Twitter to both appear to blame students and Parkland residents for not reporting the gunman’s suspicious behavior and attack the FBI for failing to thoroughly investigate a tip about the shooter from early January.
In the latter case, he explicitly and derogatorily invoked the Russia investigation, drawing condemnation from critics for trying to take political advantage from a mass shooting. At no point has Trump so much as mentioned the possibility of reforming America’s gun laws in the aftermath of the attack, which killed 17 people, including 14 students and three members of the Stoneman Douglas High School faculty.