STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump aides considered new Twitter rules after troublesome Flynn tweet

Donald Trump's tweet last weekend...

Posted: Dec 9, 2017 2:30 PM
Updated: Dec 9, 2017 2:30 PM

Donald Trump's tweet last weekend about fired national security adviser Michael Flynn sparked consideration among the President's staff of imposing new rules on how messages are posted on his social media accounts amid consternation by his aides and lawyers, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Trump vented privately at the time that the message had caused more trouble on a topic -- the Russia investigation -- that has clouded his presidency. He expressed indignation that the tweet, combined with Flynn's guilty plea itself, had obscured the Senate's approval of a sweeping tax cut package.

It's not clear whether new restrictions on Trump's Twitter were put in place

There's little expectation among Trump's staff that he'll be quiet for long

It's not clear whether new restrictions on Trump's Twitter were put in place. In the days since, the President has largely steered clear of tweeting about controversial matters like the Russia probe. But as with past pauses in his Twitter habits, there's little expectation among Trump's staff that he'll be quiet for long.

As the Flynn message raised questions about whether Trump had admitted to obstructing justice, the President dressed down aides for not catching the implication of the tweet before it went online.

After his post about Flynn, Trump continued tweeting in angry bursts about the Russia investigation and the FBI, whose reputation he claimed was in "Tatters."

But since Monday, the President has largely avoided controversial posts on Twitter, his favorite method for conveying thoughts on policy, the news or seemingly anything else that enters his mind. Instead, his tweets have stuck largely to his administration's script, including messages about his decisions to shrink two national monuments in Utah and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

'I had to fire General Flynn'

Like many of his most incendiary tweets, Trump's message about firing Flynn came on a Saturday. As he was being ferried between fund-raisers in Manhattan, this message posted: "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!"

That raised immediate questions about what Trump had known about Flynn's lies when he fired FBI Director James Comey -- who ran the agency during Flynn's January interviews where he later admitted to lying.

Hours after the post appeared, Trump's outside attorney John Dowd said he had drafted the tweet. The sources familiar with the matter said Trump wanted to weigh in on Flynn's guilty plea, which had been unveiled a day earlier. Dowd, who doesn't have access to Trump's Twitter account, sent the language to Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, who oversaw its posting online.

The greater fear among some of Trump's aides was the tweet's potential as evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which is looking into possible collusion between Moscow and Trump's presidential campaign.

That led to some aides advocating a more stringent approach to sending messages on Twitter, though a formal overhaul of the process does not appear to have transpired.

Trump gets messages on Twitter a variety of ways. During last year's campaign, Scavino told CNN that Trump dictated his messages to staff members sitting outside his office.

"When he wants to get something out, he'll dictate it out to the girls," Scavino said in 2016. Scavino himself took the dictation on the campaign trail, where he usually accompanied Trump.

Long-frustrated advisers

Trump has long frustrated some of his advisers by tweeting unvarnished thoughts that can fuel news cycles. There was a push earlier in his presidency to provide greater vetting to the tweets -- including the possibility of running them past a team of lawyers before they're posted -- but the feasibility of such a system was deemed impractical in most cases.

His first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told an audience at Duke University this week that he had lobbied the President to little avail on how he should tweet during last year's campaign. He said Trump's arguments in favor of the medium were hard to rebut.

"He can say, 'Most of you in a million years never thought I'd be sitting here, and I am. I've got 100 million people that are following me and I won by a razor's edge. Without these tweets ... and constant public debates, I don't think I'd be president.' And it's a hard thing to argue with," Priebus said.

Trump is proud of his online following, and even bragged to professional golfer Brad Faxton last month that he had "158 million" followers on Twitter (his actual total: 44.2 million).

Most in the White House -- including Priebus' successor, John Kelly -- have largely given up the idea they can stop Trump from making provocative remarks on social media. Instead, they say, they work around the tweets.

"Believe it or not -- I don't follow the tweets," Kelly said during Trump's trip last month in Asia. "We develop policy in the normal, traditional staff way."

Kelly and his deputies have largely discovered that the key to keeping Trump from damaging himself and hampering his agenda on Twitter is to keep him busy with meetings and briefings. On his foreign trips, Trump has stuck closely to script as he jets between foreign capitals. The presence of his wife, Melania, has also seemed to act as a moderating factor, though not always.

This week, as Trump flies to Florida for a campaign rally in support of embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, there are few expectations among his aides that the Twitter quiet will last.

Melania Trump isn't expected to accompany him. Her spokesperson said instead that the first lady would remain in Washington.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6979155
DeSoto542555
Harrison374372
Jackson339967
Madison321286
Rankin319375
Lee261067
Jones242778
Forrest239570
Washington218171
Lafayette209239
Lauderdale2007124
Bolivar179565
Oktibbeha175450
Lamar163534
Neshoba1540103
Panola144527
Sunflower142144
Lowndes140357
Warren138150
Leflore137080
Pontotoc123616
Pike121348
Monroe118965
Scott116425
Copiah116333
Coahoma112827
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106853
Grenada106235
Yazoo103929
Simpson101443
Union97824
Tate95537
Leake94037
Adams92136
Wayne87721
Pearl River86750
Marion84133
Prentiss81517
Covington80922
Alcorn77511
Itawamba77021
Newton75923
Tallahatchie75718
George75113
Winston72519
Tishomingo66137
Chickasaw65624
Tippah64516
Attala64125
Walthall59425
Clay58117
Hancock56421
Jasper55515
Noxubee54315
Clarke53739
Smith52414
Calhoun50612
Tunica48113
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41814
Perry40918
Quitman3755
Humphreys37315
Stone35711
Greene34617
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32811
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2439
Benton2201
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Scattered Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 71°
Columbus
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather