Donald Trump is facing legal action for violating the Presidential Records Act by having deleted a number of his Twitter posts. Up to now, he’s mostly deleted tweets in order to correct spelling errors, replacing the old tweets with new ones. Tuesday night was an entirely different story. Trump went into a panic and deleted a whole bunch of his previous tweets all at once, seemingly unaware that doing so would only call more attention to what he was deleting.
Trump seemed to have been spooked after the candidate he endorsed in the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate in Alabama, Luther Strange, lost by a big margin. He tweeted congratulations to Strange’s opponent, fellow Republican Roy Moore, then had to delete it after he had stated the wrong month for the upcoming general election contest. But then he did something remarkable: he went back and deleted every one of his numerous prior tweets endorsing and promoting Strange, effectively trying to erase all evidence that he had ever supported the guy in the first place.
This move made no sense on any strategic level. It’s already been widely reported in the mainstream media that Trump had endorsed Strange. Wednesday morning’s headlines were already going to say that Trump’s candidate lost badly. By deleting the tweets, Trump unwittingly assured that those headlines would also include the fact that Trump was trying to hide the evidence of his endorsement. He’s not fooling anyone. Even his own base knows he swung and missed on the endorsement. So what’s he really up to?
Donald Trump’s limited understanding of platforms like Twitter means it’s possible that he truly thinks deleting tweets can make them disappear. He may not grasp that his tweets have already been screencapped and reposted across the platform. On the other hand, he may simply be in such an embarrassed panic over Strange’s loss that he’s acting without thinking – which would be par for the course.