Trump falsely accused of deleting tweets in wake of El Paso shooting (updated)

President Donald Trump has come under fire for rhetoric that some are saying is partially responsible for the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left 20 dead on Saturday.

The president has repeatedly called Latin American migrants to the U.S. “hordes” and “invaders,” language that was also used by a white supremacist mass shooter in Texas.

Now, Trump is being accused of creating an alternate reality of his Twitter account. It’s a claim without merit, though.

“Why would Trump–or his aides–be deleting his tweets that refer to immigrants as ‘invaders’ if they have nothing to be guilty about? And do they seriously think there aren’t records, screen caps of all of his tweets of the past?” journalist Michelangelo Signorile initially tweeted on Sunday.

Signorile later confirmed that the deleted tweets did not actually contain the word “invaders” but continued to argue that Trump’s staff is attempting to “whitewash” his tweets.

Unfortunately, with the speed with which news ricochets around the web, the accusation of deleted tweets was soon everywhere, with people wanting to believe Trump was trying to hide any bit of culpability.

This, however, is not true. A search of an archive of Trump’s deleted tweets does not reveal any involving “invasion” or “invaders” were deleted.

Signorile also claimed a tweet written by Trump about the El Paso shooting received an “enormous” amount of backlash, so Trump or his team deleted it and reposted it hours later in an effort to hide the negative responses.

Donald Trump/Twittter

Trump did delete his initial response to the shooting, but there is no evidence he did that to hide negative responses.

“Here you can see I replied to the original tweets at 9:39 PM, but what I replied to has been deleted. That was deleted & reposted—exactly as it was—at t2;19 a.m. [sic] Thus my reply from earlier & many others would not be seen any more on his feed,” he argued.

Whether Trump or his team is trying to scrub negative criticisms regarding his rhetoric is almost irrelevant. It is nearly impossible to avoid elsewhere. Many–including Democratic presidential candidates–are pointing out that the El Paso shooter’s alleged manifesto echoes anti-immigration sentiments made by Trump in the past.

During an interview with CNN on Saturday, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) blamed Trump’s rhetoric for the nation’s violence.

“He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country, and it does not just offend our sensibilities,” he said. “It fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.”

Other candidates including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Texan Julián Castro–the only Hispanic candidate in the 2020 Democratic field–have echoed the sentiment.

“Anybody who has the ability to see and hear and understand what the president has been doing since he started his campaign in 2015 knows that division and bigotry and fanning the flames of hate has been his political strategy,” Castro said on This Week. “That’s how he believes that he won in 2016.”

This story has been updated.

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Tiffanie Drayton

Tiffanie Drayton

Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.