Everyone is asking me to cover The Apprentice LIVE on twitter. I will do so. Tonight 9 to 11. IT WILL BE A GREAT EVENING OF TELEVISION!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2015
Over the course of that day, and particularly once the show began, Trump tweeted nearly 150 times. Most of the tweets were what counted as retweets at the time, quotes of tweets sent to Trump that he then shared with his not-quite 3 million followers.
His last tweet came 12 minutes before midnight.
“My newsfeed is nothing but DonaldTrump” and Gilbert Gottfried, the tweet from a user named @Erik read. “But that’s alright with me cuz I love them.” There’s no doubt that Erik’s feed was flooded by Trump’s hyperactivity given the relatively few tweets that popped into people’s feeds at the time. The tweet ends with “great minds”; it’s not clear whether that addendum came from Erik or Trump.
That day of tweeting, Trump amplifying something he was watching on television, set a high-water mark for the most tweets Trump has sent in a day. That record of 147 tweets would understandably be hard to beat.
On Wednesday, Trump came close. The day arguments in his impeachment trial began in the Senate, Trump tweeted 142 times, most of them retweets. Data from Factba.se, an index of Trump’s public comments, make clear that, like that flurry in early 2015, the tweets this week also had a theme. In this case, it was defenses of his interactions with Ukraine, the events at the heart of the trial.
Retweets have become an increasing part of Trump’s Twitter repertoire. So far this month, more than half of his tweets have been retweets. The figure is actually about 6 in 10, just as it was last month. December 2019 and January 2020 are, to date, the only months in which half of his tweets have been retweets. November of last year came close.
Notice, too, that Trump has been much more active on Twitter in the past few months. In 2017, Trump averaged 217 tweets per month. In 2018, with the midterm elections looming, the average was about 300. In 2019? An average of about 650 tweets per month, including two months with more than 1,000 tweets. Wednesday’s activity aside, January isn’t on pace to hit that mark.
You can see that Trump’s average tweets per day began to spike in about February of last year. In March, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III completed his work, releasing his report in April. In May, Mueller testifies publicly. The arrival of the impeachment threat coincided with the peak of the recent spike.
Before Wednesday, the day of Trump’s presidency with the most tweets was the day that the House Judiciary Committee was debating the wording of the articles of impeachment.
Trump’s recent tendency on Twitter seems to be that he dives into accounts that he is looking at, retweeting whichever tweets catch his eye. On Wednesday, for example, Trump for the first time retweeted tweets from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to Factba.se’s Bill Frischling. But he made up for lost time, retweeting nearly a dozen tweets from the account, largely focused on impeachment in some way.
(The tweet below is the first time he’d mentioned the NRSC in a tweet.)
The day’s energy was probably powered in part by Trump’s waking up in Europe — early in the United States — and his then flying back to Washington. A lot of down time, in other words, and a lot to watch on TV. So, just as he did five years prior, Trump retweeted some of the thoughts he was seeing in his feed. A lot.
Last month, we created a tool that shows how Trump’s interests on Twitter have evolved over time. It’s below, showing the density of subjects in his tweets by month. Try Trump or witch.