The Slatest

Reports: United States Essentially Leaderless as President Feuds With Twitter, Professional Golfers’ Association

A flag at half-mast is seen above the upper floor of the White House against bare trees and a gray sky.
The White House on Monday morning. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Amid still-spiking coronavirus numbers and a violent insurrection crisis he helped create, Donald Trump is laser-focused on using his last hours as president to complain that he was removed from a social media app that originally came to prominence as a means by which teenagers could stay abreast of Justin Bieber’s daily schedule, reports say.

Since conceding in a video issued under duress last Thursday that Joe Biden is the certified winner of the presidential election and that a new administration will take over the government on Jan. 20, the chief executive has not appeared in public or released any statements. CNBC’s Eamon Javers reports, however, that administration officials are considering “the idea of President Trump making remarks on camera today about big tech,” while the Washington Post says he “plans to spend the final days of his term in office railing against the industry.”

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Twitter and Facebook both suspended Trump’s account when he released a video praising the individuals who were occupying the Capitol. When the president returned from his suspension Thursday to make remarks that could be interpreted as calls to continue violently disputing the election result, Twitter announced a permanent ban—a removal that marked a stunning fall from grace for a man who was once thought of alongside Ashton Kutcher and Snooki as one of the service’s signature personalities. (Trump is also reportedly furious at PGA of America for canceling a scheduled 2022 event at his golf course in New Jersey.*)

The business of governing the United States, meanwhile, is being done by people besides the president on an ad hoc basis. Vice President Mike Pence—who reportedly hasn’t spoken to Trump since the president denounced him during the Capitol riot—is scheduled to lead a coronavirus task force meeting at the White House on Monday afternoon and, according to Politico, is being treated as the head of the executive branch in a “wink, wink, nod, nod” way by lawmakers and other officials. Pence, and not Trump, will attend Biden’s swearing-in; Pence also spoke to the family of the Capitol Police officer who was killed in the riot to offer condolences, which the president has not done.

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Meanwhile, in the absence of any briefings from the president or any of the federal law enforcement agencies he commands, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, National Guard chief Daniel Hokanson, and Republican Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies) are among those who have publicly discussed efforts to bolster security at next Wednesday’s inauguration.* (Pro-Trump extremists online have called for further shows of force in D.C. on Jan. 17 and Inauguration Day.)

Trump is scheduled to visit Alamo, Texas, Tuesday in an event meant to highlight border-wall construction, though it’s not clear if he’ll make remarks there (on any subject) or take questions. Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, thinks he can lobby the president into returning his attention to matters of substance:

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Graham’s comments are an appropriate epitaph for Trump’s term in office. For the last four years, the president’s most well-credentialed and nominally respectable allies argued that he would be more appreciated for his accomplishments in governance if he were able to suppress his impulse to make inflammatory comments online. Given a chance to prove that, though, when Twitter pulled the plug, he’s shown that his only governing priority is getting back to posting again. To Trump and to the supporters who understood him best, being in a position to air talk-radio grievances from the presidential pulpit always was his most important accomplishment.

Correction, Jan. 11, 2021: This piece originally confused PGA of America with the PGA Tour. They are separate entities. It also misstated the day of the week of Biden’s inauguration as Tuesday rather than Wednesday.

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