President Trump’s unprecedented use of Twitter throughout his campaign and now into his presidency is under fire once again, this time in response to his announcement via the popular social media site that his administration “will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Early last week, the President’s use of Twitter to express his unhappiness with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also caused a stir within his own Republican party including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s personal Twitter has followed the President even before he announced his 2016 presidential campaign. Since his candidacy and election, the President has turned to 140-character messages to voice his opinions, push his administration’s agenda, and even make official statements.
President Trump’s use of Twitter is vastly different compared to that of former President Barack Obama, who stuck to his official @POTUS Twitter handle throughout his eight years in office. Because of the uniqueness of President Trump’s Twitter use, the public and even government officials are unclear on how to interpret his seemingly official Presidential statements. In early June, then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the press to consider the President’s tweets as official statements, stating, “The president is president of the United States so they are considered official statements by the president of the United States.”
However, tweets from late last week regarding the Trump administration’s position on the service of Transgender individuals in the United States Military, have prompted responses from both House Majority leader, Paul Ryan, and the Pentagon. During a press conference on Thursday, July 27, Paul Ryan joked that he doesn’t read the President’s tweets, thus raising questions about the legitimacy of Twitter statements. General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a statement to members of the military stating that there “will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”
As Donald Trump’s presidency continues, it seems likely that criticism of his Twitter use will continue as well. And even as President Trump’s use of Twitter is unlike any former president’s, is he setting a precedent for those who come after him?