It’s one of the biggest dilemmas of the Trump era: how seriously should we take the president’s tweets?

Aug 1, 2018 by

 csmonitor.com

Previous presidents spoke with caution, knowing that reporters and others would be parsing every word. But President Trump – who routinely sends out a flurry of bombastic (and often grammatically spotty) missives via Twitter – has turned that tradition on its head.

This morning, Mr. Trump went on a Twitter tirade, attacking special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with an intensity that was eye-catching even for this president.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” the president wrote. “Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”

In response, members of Congress essentially gave a collective shrug. As in, we’ll react when and if he actually does something – and not before.

“He didn’t say anything in the record that I’ve reviewed this morning that said he wants [Mueller] fired,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R) of North Carolina, according to Monitor Congressional Correspondent Francine Kiefer. Senator Tillis has co-sponsored legislation that would protect Mr. Mueller – but said today’s tweets didn’t create any new urgency for his bill to get a vote on the Senate floor.

For many lawmakers, it’s a matter of not getting sucked into an endlessly time-consuming cycle of reacting to the president’s latest provocation. “I’m not going to be [part of] the daily – like, everyone would wake up and tweet something and then, we’re supposed to respond to his tweet,” a visibly exasperated Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida said on MSNBC.

On the other hand, Trump’s tweets often drive the national conversation. “When he tweets in the morning, it is the topic of the day,” said former GOP Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, according to Francine.

And of course, a presidential tweet clearly has the potential to influence events. “To do it in the middle of a federal court trial is an unbelievable thing to do,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) of Minnesota told reporters, referring to the ongoing trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. A former prosecutor herself, Senator Klobuchar added: “You don’t try to influence a jury in the middle of a trial.”

Indeed, many observers expect that Mueller is likely collecting Trump’s tweets as possible evidence in his investigation – something the president should perhaps keep in mind.

Let us know what you’re thinking at csmpolitics@csmonitor.com.

We welcome your comments!