The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump’s Twitter silence isn’t all that unusual — yet

President Trump during a meeting at the White House on May 15. (Chris Kleponis/European Pressphoto Agency)
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It is a little after noon on May 17 as I write this. It has been a bit over 20 hours since President Trump last tweeted.

That’s an odd metric to apply to something as important as the presidency, certainly, but given Trump’s prolific presence on the social media platform — a presence that he’s repeatedly defended since he began his bid for the office in June 2015 — it’s noteworthy. That’s particularly the case because of the timeline of what’s happened since then.

His tweets Tuesday morning focused on Monday’s reports that he’d revealed classified information to the Russians, which seemed to be the crisis of the moment — but that was supplanted Tuesday afternoon by news that former FBI director James B. Comey had a memo indicating that Trump asked him to end the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump’s M.O. when he’s under attack is often to return fire in 140-character bursts; that he hasn’t yet seems significant, as when he lost the Iowa caucuses in February 2016 and then didn’t tweet for almost a full day.

But really, it isn’t. The current hiatus in Trump’s tweeting is only the 59th longest since he announced his candidacy — easily in the 99th percentile, but he still has a ways to go.  To break his existing record for gaps between tweets, he needs to go another full 24 hours, until 1:35 p.m. tomorrow.

Update: At 4:36 p.m., Trump tweeted again. The total period he went without tweeting was three minutes shy of 25 hours — his 26th longest hiatus since announcing his candidacy for office. The chart below has been updated.

We can put that visually. Trump’s had a number of pauses of more than 2,000 minutes. When he comes back to Twitter, he often levels a complaint about what was happening while he was offline.

As you can see, this current hiatus isn’t that unusual. In fact, since the election, Trump has had more time between his tweets — meaning that he’s been tweeting less.

It’s very much worth noting that fewer tweets are precisely what a lot of Trump’s supporters want to see. In March, Fox News asked voters how they felt about Trump’s tweeting. Even a majority of Trump voters wished he’d scale back his use of the social media tool.

As we noted Tuesday, Trump’s Twitter habit has been the genesis of many of the problems he’s had to address since he took office — or, at least, he’s often made his problems worse.

Put another way: Trump’s Twitter silence may mean we have less of a sense of what he’s up to. But that, for Trump, is probably a good thing.