President Trump’s “working vacation” has meant that he’s taking a break from the White House, decamping to his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. How he’s balanced the “working” and “vacation” aspects of his time away from Washington isn’t clear, but we can say with certainty that his public outreach efforts have continued unabated. Meaning his tweets.
On Friday morning, we got a pretty decent sampling from a typical day in August 2018. A complaint about Turkey and a discussion of tariffs. Two tweets about the NFL protests. And, of course, a tweet about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
And, of course, it was incorrect. There was evidence linking Trump’s campaign team to Russian interference efforts: a Trump campaign adviser telling a foreign diplomat that he knew the Russians had emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, as well as reports from a former intelligence officer linking others in the campaign to Russian efforts directly. Those reports, composing the infamous “dossier,” weren’t verified, but that’s how evidence often works in an investigation. That’s why you investigate.
The Friday-morning tweet followed four on Thursday addressing the same subject. It was one of 10 tweets since Sunday. Trump tweets about the Mueller probe and ancillary subjects — the FBI, collusion, etc. — an awful lot.
Looking at his tweets on a daily basis, that gets obscured a bit.
If we step back to the weekly level, though, that frequency is clear. He tweets a lot, and a lot of those tweets are about the Russia probe or Mueller.
By our count, he’s tweeted about it more than 400 times since he took office. If we separate out the weekly totals, it seems as though he’s tweeting about the Russia probe at an increasing rate.
Taking another step back, we can see that trend on a monthly basis. The month in which the greatest percentage of his tweets dealt with the Russia investigation was February 2018, in which more than 1 in 5 of his tweets broached the subject. (Why then? In part because that was the month that a memo from staffers for California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes was released, ostensibly showing how the Russia investigation was predicated on a faulty warrant — a claim that was soon broadly rebutted.)
The month in which Trump had the second-highest density of Mueller/Russia tweets? August 2018. There’s an almost straight line up from a low in September — when Trump was occupied with hurricane season — through to this moment.
Why the surge of interest in the Mueller probe? If we assume that Twitter is an accurate reflection of Trump’s concerns and mental process, it’s because the Mueller probe is increasingly on Trump’s mind. That’s probably because the special counsel has been haggling for months with Trump’s legal team over when and if Trump will offer testimony. It’s also probably because the investigation is moving steadily toward some sort of conclusion, and it’s not clear what that conclusion will be.
If this upward trend holds, we estimate that 99.93 percent of Trump’s tweets will be about the Mueller probe by August 2022. If he’s still president then and the Mueller probe is still going, we can’t say we would blame him.