Update 7:30pm: Donald Trump has since deleted the follow-up tweet, possibly breaking the rules regarding archiving official records a second time. As of now, there’s no proof on his Twitter account of it ever existing. Of course, that’s what archived images are for.
We’re officially through the looking glass, and it’s time to find out what powers our country’s legal system has over the president. One day after his inauguration, Donald Trump has already fucked up a tweet and deleted it. The problem is that he very likely isn’t allowed to do that anymore.
Since his nomination, Trump has acted as a sort of hacker in our system— identifying vulnerabilities in which common decency has restricted previous presidents, but the law did not. Most glaringly, Trump has not divested from his global business interests, and he has not released his tax returns. But one area in which the president is bound by law is that his or her administration is required to archive all official records. Trump may have violated that requirement this morning when he tweeted and then deleted this gem from his personal account:
Yes, go ahead and get the facepalm out of the way before you continue reading. Not long after tweeting that he was “honered,” Trump deleted the entire post. It was replaced by the same tweet with the correct spelling. Note: It has also been deleted.
This is not “unpresidented.” Trump is known to be a bad speller and an erratic tweeter who thinks with his thumbs. But the problem is his right to delete stupidity may have ended yesterday.
Both the Freedom of Information Act and Presidential Records Act require the commander in chief to painstakingly preserve all records of federal government actions and communications. That’s why the official @POTUS account was migrated to @POTUS44 yesterday, and Trump now has a clean slate to use for his SNL rants. The official account of the president as well as many other social media records have also been archived at a special website in case of future technical changes that could render the content unavailable to the public.
It will be up to the legal experts in the White House to figure out whether or not Trump’s personal account has the same requirements for preservation as his official one does. Considering that Trump has said he intends to keep his personal account going, it would seem that it should be considered public record.
While it may feel like no big deal for Trump to delete a typo, history might tell a different story. If this man is so careless with his official communication less than 24 hours after becoming president, we’ll need the documentation to show that.