President Donald Trump is responding to the Senate impeachment trial into his abuses of power and obstruction of Congress by using Twitter to promote defenses of his conduct that he’s seen on Fox News. He sent at least 12 tweets in response to Fox programming on Thursday, more than he had sent on any single day in 2019, according to a Media Matters review.
Trump often tweets his responses to Fox segments that catch his eye during the hours of the network’s programming he reportedly watches daily, sending at least 657 of these Fox live tweets in 2019. This tactic became a central facet of the president’s communications strategy as evidence emerged that he had conditioned military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with its president on that country helping his reelection campaign.
The president appears to respond to moments of unique peril for his administration by sending more tweets in response to Fox. His highest one-day total for Fox live tweets in 2019 was December 18 -- the day the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against him. He exceeded that total on Thursday, the third day of the Senate’s trial to determine whether Trump should be removed from office, lifting up commentary from at least four different shows over the course of the day.
Trump spent the first two days of the Senate trial traveling to and attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and generally does not have access to Fox News on international trips. With the network apparently unavailable to him, he replaced Fox live-tweeting with retweeting the feeds of Fox personalities like Mark Levin (an incredible 10 times in a row on Wednesday), Lou Dobbs, and Dan Bongino.
But with the president again comfortably ensconced in the White House residence on Thursday morning, the Fox live tweets came early and furious. Trump sent his first live tweet of the day at 7:39 a.m. He promoted talk radio host Rush Limbaugh’s criticism of House Intelligence Committee chairman and impeachment manager Adam Schiff, which had aired on Fox & Friends an hour and a half earlier.
Trump then sent seven tweets over a period of 15 minutes responding to two segments from the 4 a.m. hour of Fox & Friends First: He quoted from and responded to a letter Republican attorneys general had sent opposing Trump’s removal, and he commented on various aspects of Fox anchor Heather Childress’ interview with Robert Charles, a State Department official during the Bush administration who termed the House case against Trump “a work of fiction.”
About half an hour later, Trump sent two tweets lashing out at “clown” Michael Bloomberg’s “hopeless” campaign for the Democratic presidential candidate. As Politico noted, earlier that morning Fox & Friends had devoted a segment to a campaign ad for the former New York City mayor and hosted his campaign manager.
Trump’s next tweet came nearly three hours later, when the president returned to the topic of the impeachment trial and quoted Fox contributor Liz Peek supposedly saying that the trial is “all about undermining the next Election.” Peek had agreed to that contention about 45 minutes earlier on America’s Newsroom.
Over the next several hours, the president’s Twitter feed remained silent, and Fox aired House Democrats’ presentation of the second day of their oral arguments. Then, during a pause in the presentation, Trump tweeted a defense Fox contributor Ari Fleischer had offered on the network’s Bill Hemmer Presents only moments before.
That was Trump’s last live tweet of the day. He spent the remainder of the afternoon traveling to Miami for an evening speech, returning to the White House after 10 p.m. The final tweets to go out on his Twitter feed on Thursday were raw video clips of Fox host Sean Hannity’s impeachment coverage.
Trump began his Friday the same way as his Thursday -- watching Fox and tweeting about what he saw. He will likely spend the remainder of his Senate trial in his Fox News safe space, pushing out tidbits from the network’s propagandists to his Twitter followers and buttressing its efforts to shield him from accountability.