Former President Donald Trump posted to his popular Facebook page for the first time in over two years. He was controversially banned from all major social media sites in January 2021, following the riot at the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
President Trump’s disputed claims of widespread election fraud prompted an angry mob to disrupt the official counting of the Electoral College votes in Congress on 6 January. However, mainstream media and, mostly Democratic, lawmakers in Congress have routinely exaggerated the facts of the riot to make it seem more violent. For example, their claim that four members of the Capitol police died that day was completely debunked. Three of the deaths were suicides months after the event, while one was caused by a stroke the next day. Fox News host Tucker Carlson obtained tens of hours of security footage from the fateful day from the newly elected Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, which includes, among other things, video of police officers peacefully escorting the infamous ‘QAnon Shaman’ (sentenced to more than three years in prison) inside the building.
These were the events that led to a sitting, then former President of the United States not being able to use the platforms through which he could have communicated the most effectively with his base for over two years. However, on Friday, 17 March, President Trump posted a short clip of himself from his victorious election night in 2016. The clip showed him as he walked onto the stage in front of a cheering crowd at his campaign headquarters. He shared the same video both on Facebook and YouTube, with the title ‘I’M BACK!’.
Elon Musk’s recently-acquired Twitter was the first to lift the ban on the former President back in November 2022 after a community poll. However, Trump has not used that service since, despite having one of the most popular accounts on the platform with over 87 million followers. He launched his own social media site Truth Social in February 2022 explicitly to rival Twitter.
Donald Trump also has a massive audience on Facebook: despite not being able to post for two years, he still retained over 34 million followers. By comparison, sitting President Joe Biden has less than a third of that, 11 million, after occupying the highest office for over two years.
Donald Trump’s ‘I’M BACK’ post received 210,000 interactions, mostly positive, within three days.
Trump has always been a juggernaut on social media. Ahead of the 2016 election, the artificial intelligence system MogIA, which had accurately predicted the winner of the previous three presidential elections based on social media activity, not only projected him to win, but also measured an even higher level of popularity for him than for Barack Obama in 2008. Curiously, after getting four out of four elections correct, MogIA did not make a prediction for 2020.
Trump Claims He Will Get Arrested on Tuesday
However, the next day, President Trump used his own Truth Social to make a sinister announcement. In a post, he claimed that he had learnt from ‘illegal leaks from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office’ that he would be arrested on Tuesday. He also called for protests to try to stop the injustice.
His legal counsel has talked to the press since, and it seems they are taking the leaked information seriously. Trump had to undergo many miscellaneous investigations in the past—yet he still has a clear criminal record with no convictions at age 76. This case is believed to be about the $130,000 ‘hush money’ the Trump campaign paid to smother the story of then-candidate Trump’s extramarital affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. His personal attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for the same act in 2018.
Back in August 2022, federal agents raided his luxury Florida property, in connection with the alleged mishandling of classified information, with stacks of classified documents being stored in the former President’s private property. However, only a few months later, identically sensitive documents were found in Joe Biden’s private office in Washington DC, then his Delaware home as well. These were from his time as Barack Obama’s Vice President. There has not been any major development in Trump’s case since the raid.
If his prediction turns out to be correct, Donald Trump will be the first US President to be arrested after leaving office. Incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant was arrested for speeding on his horse and buggy in Washington, DC by officer William H. West in 1872.
Many major Republican figures, including House Speaker McCarthy and Trump’s VP Mike Pence, have dismissed the criminal case as a corrupt political play. Trump’s former ally and his biggest rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, remained silent on the subject, however.
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Author: Márton Losonczi
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