Donald Trump can’t stop deleting his own tweets, and we’re not just talking about typos any more.
On Tuesday, the president scrubbed evidence of his support for Alabama senator Luther Strange on Twitter, after Strange lost a primary runoff. A Trump tweet congratulating Roy Moore, the anti-establishment candidate that beat Strange, also disappeared, though it was reposted later in the night. Trump’s decision to delete these tweets Strange isn’t just weird and confusing. It might even be illegal.
What’s especially, well, strange about Trump’s unending habit of deleting tweets is the simple fact that he can’t get away with it. Aside from bystanders noticing the missing tweets on Twitter, ProPublica operates a tool called Politwoops that automatically archives the deleted tweets. Here they are:
What’s even more bizarre is the fact that Trump did not delete a number of supportive tweets about Strange from several days ago. So if the president is trying to make supporters forget that he endorsed a losing candidate, he’s doing a really shitty job of it. Here’s that once-deleted but now reposted tweet supporting the winner in Alabama, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who’s been identified as “a bigot and a hatemonger” that managed to get himself kicked out of the state Supreme Court twice:
Back to the deleted tweets, though. President Trump has already been warned by the David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, that deleting his tweets is a potential violation of the Presidential Records Act as well as the Federal Records Act. The legality issue is murky, though, since “records management authority is vested in the president,” in Ferriero’s words.
For now, it seems, we’re stuck with a president who does weird and potentially dangerous things. Some countries, like North Korea, view Trump’s erratic rhetoric as war mongering. Others wonder why Trump would attack black athletes exercising their right to free speech as Puerto Rico literally drowns in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In the grand scheme of things, deleting a few tweets in an attempt to rewrite history seems like it might not be the worst thing the president has done in the past week.
Why does Trump do these strange things? We don’t know. We might never know.