President Trump set personal records on Twitter in 2019, reaching out to his 68 million followers in tweet storms that included an impassioned defense against impeachment and sometimes cruel taunts for his critics.
As the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry reached its peak in December, so did the president’s Twitter activity. He sent 123 messages on Thursday, Dec. 12, setting a single-day record for his presidency.
Among a string of retweets that day decrying the unfairness of impeachment, the president added that he has consistently questioned why other countries weren’t paying their fair share for the defense of Ukraine, the subject at the heart of the impeachment case.
“The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, never mention this at their phony hearing,” Mr. Trump tweeted. On the day of his impeachment, Mr. Trump asked the nation to pray.
“Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!” he said.
The president reached his previous record on Twitter just a few days earlier, on Dec. 8, when he tweeted or retweeted 105 times.
By midday Monday, Mr. Trump had sent 1,086 messages during this impeachment month alone — more than four times as many as he posted in February.
Richard Vatz, a professor of communications at Towson University in Maryland, said the president understands that “persuasion is about control of agenda and spin.”
“To tweet consistently is, in his view, a method of controlling what the national agenda is and his take on it,” Mr. Vatz said. “He seems to be frustrated when the multitude of anti-Trump media sources control that which is on the national agenda, such as impeachment, and what the dominant spin is, such as that he is in trouble.
“When his popularity rises in the polls, he wants to apprise the electorate of that rather than chance the media’s ignoring of it. Presidential tweeting is always at least covered.”
One of the president’s most controversial social media posts of the year wasn’t a tweet of his own, but a retweet near midnight Friday of another tweet that identified the person suspected of being the government whistleblower who launched the Ukraine investigation.
The retweet then seemed to be deleted, but it reappeared the following night. Twitter told The Associated Press that a system outage had affected tweets on some accounts, including Mr. Trump’s.
The president has been urging the media and others to reveal the name of the whistleblower, thought to be a CIA employee who was assigned to the White House. He says the person is a partisan Democrat allied with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden. Opponents said Mr. Trump’s move could violate federal law protecting the identities of whistleblowers.
“The president’s actions not only jeopardize the safety of the alleged whistleblower, they discourage individuals from reporting government wrongdoing and put our national security at risk,” Rep. Sharice Davids, Kansas Democrat, said in a Twitter post.
The National Whistleblower Center said it was the first time Mr. Trump had posted anything on his Twitter timeline that named the alleged whistleblower, although son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the name last month.
“These threats to the personal safety and livelihoods of whistleblowers emanating from the president and his allies are unprecedented and pose a serious threat to our democracy,” said John Kostyack, executive director of the whistleblower center.
The president started 2019 in the midst of a partial government shutdown stemming from a fight with House Democrats over funding for his border wall. He referred to the battle in his second tweet of the year, writing in all caps, “Happy New Year to everyone, including the haters and the fake news media! 2019 will be a fantastic year for those not suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Just calm down and enjoy the ride, great things are happening for our country!”
With Democrats winning control of the House and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation yet to be completed, Mr. Trump tweeted on Jan. 4, “They only want to impeach me because they know they can’t win in 2020, too much success! How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?”
The shutdown finally ended, and the president had several frosty meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat whose name on his Twitter feed evolved during the year from “Nancy” to “Nervous Nancy” to “Crazy Nancy.”
The president proved he knows golf. After a golf outing with his legendary friend Tiger Woods in early February in Florida, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Everyone is asking how Tiger played yesterday. The answer is Great! He was long, straight & putted fantastically well. He shot a 64. Tiger is back & will be winning Majors again!”
Two months later, Woods won his fifth Masters tournament.
Mr. Trump went after his opponents on social media with his familiar pugnacious style.
He picked a high-profile fight in July with “The Squad,” four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color, including Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Somalia-born Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
“Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist & public shouting of the Fword, among many other terrible things, and the petrified Dems run for the hills,” he tweeted.
At a campaign rally that month in North Carolina, some Trump supporters chanted about Ms. Omar, “Send her back.” In the media furor that followed, the president defended his campaign audience.
“It is amazing how the Fake News Media became ‘crazed’ over the chant ‘send her back’ by a packed Arena (a record) crowd in the Great State of North Carolina, but is totally calm & accepting of the most vile and disgusting statements made by the three Radical Left Congresswomen,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
In a clash over border policies later that month with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who has since died, the president referred to the lawmaker’s Baltimore district as “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
When Rep. Debbie Dingell, Michigan Democrat, announced this month that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump, the president accused her of ingratitude for authorizing honors for the funeral of her late husband, longtime Rep. John Dingell. “Now I watch her ripping me as part of the Democrats Impeachment Hoax. Really pathetic!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
At a campaign rally later, the president speculated that instead of “looking down” on them, perhaps Mr. Dingell was “looking up” from hell. Even some of the president’s supporters jeered his remark.
When Time magazine named Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg as its Person of the Year, Mr. Trump tweeted, “So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
On the administration’s closely watched trade negotiations with China, the president kept teasing Wall Street and the public for most of the year.
“Talks with China are going very well!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Jan. 8. Nearly a year later, administration officials are preparing to sign the initial phase of a trade agreement with Beijing while sticking points remain for a comprehensive deal.
The president used Twitter about two dozen times throughout the year to pressure Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to lower interest rates and loosen monetary policy.
“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or [Chinese] Chairman Xi?” the president tweeted in August.
Several times throughout the year, Mr. Trump reminded the public that he wanted to get to the bottom of why the FBI started an investigation of his campaign in 2016 and suspected collusion with Russia.
“Everybody is asking how the phony and fraudulent investigation of the No Collusion, No Obstruction Trump Campaign began,” he tweeted on March 31. “We need to know for future generations to understand. This Hoax should never be allowed to happen to another President or Administration again!”
On April 6, he tweeted, “Why should I be defending a fraudulent Russian Witch Hunt. It’s about time the perpetrators of this fraud on me and the American People start defending their dishonest and treasonous acts. How and why did this terrible event begin? Never Forget!”
By July 25, Mr. Trump was on the phone with Ukraine’s president seeking assurances of an investigation of that matter and of Mr. Biden.