President Donald Trump was wrong about Luther Strange, and when victory was declared in favor of his opponent for Alabama’s open Senate seat, some tweets immediately disappeared off the verified Trump Twitter account.
Specifically missing were three tweets in which Trump pedaled his endorsement of Strange and encouraged people to vote for him. But as most people know, nothing really ever disappears on the Internet, and those deleted tweets are preserved in perpetuity on a growing list of other tweets Trump has deleted from his verified Twitter account — tweets some legal experts say could spell trouble for the Trump administration.
Since Trump took office on Jan. 20, his @realdonaldtrump account has deleted a total of 41 posts, according to archives maintained by ProPublica, a nonprofit journalism website. That number swells to 49 if you count tweets deleted from the @POTUS account since Trump’s inauguration.
Sometimes Trump tweets are deleted because of simple typos (covfefe, anyone?).
Other times (as in the Strange case) tweets are deleted because Trump turned out to be wrong.
But, whatever the reason, those deleted tweets are now central to a debate as to whether Trump is violating federal presidential recordkeeping laws.
The Presidential Records Act mandates the preservation of White House Internal communications, which includes electronic messages like email, Facebook and even Twitter.
Some legal experts say Trump’s personal Twitter account might have gotten off the hook if not for Trump’s own White House staff declaring his Twitter posts as official government statements.
Still, Trump isn’t the only president to delete tweets, predecessor President Barack Obama also delete an occasional tweet, Politico reported, but his administration archived those tweets.
The key question is whether the Trump administration is doing the same, which according to themselves, they are. In March David Ferriero, who heads the National Archives and Records Administration, told senators he was “informed by White House officials that they are, in fact,” archiving tweets deleted from Trump’s personal verified Twitter account.
This isn’t the first time tweets deleted off the verified Trump Twitter account have garnered attention. In June three ethics watchdog groups even filed suit against Trump, demanding the courts stop him from deleting any other posts from his social media pages.
The Trump administration has until Oct. 6 to respond.