US POLITICS

Trump Tried (And Failed) To Live-Tweet Away Russia Hearing

A barrage of tweets from @POTUS tried to make Monday's hearing with FBI Director Comey look less damning

US POLITICS
Photo Illustration: R. A. Di Ieso
Mar 20, 2017 at 6:09 PM ET

Monday’s congressional hearing on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was not full of good PR for Donald Trump.

FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed that his agency is investigating Russia’s meddling into the campaign, as well as looking into possible collusion with the Trump team. Comey and NSA chief Mike Rogers also confirmed that (of course) they have no information to support the president’s allegation that Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower.

And, unsurprisingly, the conference dominated the news cycle. Alongside headlines across the media, 150,000 social media users tweeted along the #comeyhearing tag, sharing Trump stories that were almost exclusively negative.

The president, of course, tried to fight back — in what was likely the first presidential live-tweeting of a congressional hearing in history. The official @POTUS account posted six videos during the hearing, trying to reframe the hearing to make it more flattering for the president.

In one of the tweets, team Trump writes, “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.” The attached clip shows Rogers specifically saying that he has no information suggests Russia had tampered with actual vote counts — drawing a misleading link, since both Rogers and Comey confirmed they’re looking into Russia’s efforts to impact the process via other means.

The @POTUS tweets generated thousands of retweets, but Trump wasn’t able to win the day. Trump critics with far smaller followings ended up taking off alongside the president’s tweets, and similarly getting shared by thousands. Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell from California concluded the president’s credibility is gone, while former Clinton adviser Peter Daou emphasized the historic nature of the investigation. 

Of course, because it’s 2017, not only did the president live-tweet the hearing, a congressman, Rep. Jim Himes, then read the mentioned Trump tweet aloud to Comey and Rogers later, to ask if it was correct. Both seemed reluctant to address it, but noted that investigating the interference itself, not gauging its impact, was their purview.