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Trump won’t be able to use his greatest weapon during his impeachment trial

Published Feb 8th, 2021 4:45PM EST
Trump impeachment
Image: Kevin Dietsch - Pool via CNP/MEGA
  • The Trump impeachment trial will kick off on Tuesday, and the president will have to defend himself during it without one of his signature weapons — a social media presence.
  • Trump’s social media ban across platforms like Facebook and Twitter remains in place following the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.
  • Erroneous news reports suggested that Trump in recent days has returned to social media, with a post on the social platform beloved by the far-right called Gab.

With the Trump impeachment trial set to get underway on Tuesday, the former president’s legal team filed its first pretrial legal brief accusing the whole thing of being nothing more than “political theater” — which is reminiscent of the weapon Trump once enjoyed that he’ll have to do without during this impeachment.

Last time around — and, really, up to the aftermath of January’s riots and attack on the US Capitol complex — President Trump enjoyed a robust, multi-platform social media presence. One that allowed him to yell, rant, and lob political bombs at enemies both real and perceived across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, in addition to making the fact-free declarations that so often drove countless news cycles. This time around, he’s facing the first-ever second impeachment of a US president, one that Trump will have to undergo without the aid of a social media presence anymore. Even though there have been erroneous news reports in the past few days that President Trump is now posting on the social networking platform beloved by the far-right, called Gab.

Several major US and international news outlets have reported over the past few days that President Trump has made his return to social media by utilizing the “@realdonaldtrump” account on Gab, which includes a verified check mark on the service that apparently sparked the confusion. However, both a Trump advisor as well as Gab itself have said this is not being used by the president himself, at least not directly.

Via Twitter, Trump spokesman Jason Miller told his followers that “This is a fake account.” The official Twitter account of Gab then responded to that with the following, clarifying how the Trump account on Gab is actually being used:

Gab CEO Andrew Torba further expounded on that tweet in a post on Gab, which the CEO described as “the only safe place left for conservatives” on the Internet.

“@realdonaldtrump is and always has been a mirror archive of POTUS’ tweets and statements that we’ve run for years,” Torba’s Gab post reads. “We’ve always been transparent about this and would obviously let people know if the President starts using it. The only reason he’s not using it right now to contact his base is because dopey advisers like Jared Kushner, who lost him the election, are blocking him from using it.

“A fake news story was started by random British newspapers that didn’t even bother calling us to fact check or for comment.”

That led to a number of news headlines declaring that Trump broke his social media silence via Gab, which included the following:

  • Newsweek: “Could Donald Trump’s Gab Post Hint at Return to Social Media?”
  • Business Insider: “Trump used Gab, a platform popular with the far-right, to break his social media silence with a post denouncing his impeachment trial”
  • The Independent: “Donald Trump returns to social media with Gab post calling impeachment a ‘public relations stunt’”
Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.