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The 35 Trump Tweets That Defined 2018

The president spends a lot of time on Twitter, so where better to turn to understand the past 12 months of his embattled administration

President Donald Trump talks with reporters before departing for France on the South Lawn of the White House, in WashingtonTrump, Washington, USA - 09 Nov 2018

President Donald Trump talks with reporters before departing for France on the South Lawn of the White House.

Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

Just as Trump has done more “damage to ISIS than all recent presidents,” as he tweeted last week, the president has also spent more time on social media than anyone to occupy the Oval Office. Trump’s prolific Twitter presence has afforded Americans a unique look into how he processes current events. This can be exhausting, infuriating and even incriminating. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly taken the president’s feed into consideration as he investigates the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and whether Trump may have obstructed justice.

The president’s Twitter habit can also be informative, offering a stunning timeline of how he has bobbed and weaved his way around controversy after controversy, with excuses leading to actions, leading to more excuses, leading to more more actions — all in the service of saving his own ass. So, with the hope of gleaning some sort of insight into one of the most turbulent and confusing years in modern American history, we’ve anthologized Trump’s most notable tweets of 2018, month by month. This may have been a bad idea.

JANUARY

Trump’s eventual summit with Kim Jong-un released tension from what had become an increasingly concerning war of words between two of the world’s most petulant leaders. On New Year’s Day, Kim warned that the United States is “within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office.” Trump countered deftly, noting that he has a bigger button. Twelve months and a handshake later, North Korea’s nuclear program is still very much active, and Trump is showing White House guests the “love letters” he has received from Kim claiming that it’s not.

The president’s mental illness became a mainstream talking point following the release of Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s questionable account of the Trump administration’s first year. Wolff portrayed Trump as an incompetent moron, leading the president to rant about how his greatest assets are “mental stability and being, like, really smart.” He also coined the phrase “very stable genius.”

It’s hard to tell here whether he is taking a sarcastic jab at the Women’s March, or if the idea that those marching were doing so in praise of his first year in office somehow wormed its way into his brain. Either way, in 2018, well over a million people marched for women’s rights around the United States across several highly publicized rallies. The 2019 edition will take place on January 19th.

FEBRUARY

Slow month.

MARCH

One of the most frightening qualities of Trump the Politician is that he actually follows through on the harebrained ideas he blurts out at rallies. After complaining for years about how the United States is being ripped off by other nations, he decided in 2018 to plunge the nation into a global trade war. The first major step came on March 1st, when he defied advisers by announcing massive tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The affected nations imposed retaliatory tariffs. Several American industries suffered, and continue to suffer, as tariffs remain in place.

For those worried that it may be a bad thing to close the year with an acting attorney general, an acting chief of staff and an acting defense secretary to go along with a partial government shutdown, don’t worry; the president is simply in the process of “seeking perfection,” as he was in March when economic adviser Gary Cohn left the White House following Trump’s tariff scheme.

File this one away if Biden decides to run in 2020.

APRIL

Trump’s first Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, may have been the most corrupt Cabinet official in American history. Not only did he have little-to-no regard for the environment (in February he mused that climate change may actually be good for humanity), Pruitt wasted government money on lavish accouterments, lied about meetings, fired staff for questioning his ethics and generally abused his position to an awe-inspiring degree. The president stuck with Pruitt until the very end. He resigned on July 5th.

What matters most about the president’s trade war with China are the friendships he makes along the way.

Fake News at its worst.

Trump tweeting “MAGA!” on top of a Kanye West tweet that has since been deleted may be the most succinct distillation of 2018.

Six months later, West would visit the Oval Office to explain to Trump why his “Make America Great Again” hat made him feel like Superman. He also showed the president designs to a hydrogen-powered super plane he dubbed the iPlane 1.

MAY

Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation has resulted in the indictments of dozens of individuals, including several who were intimately involved with Trump’s campaign. To Trump, bringing people to justice for lying to the United States government constitutes a betrayal, and career criminals like Paul Manafort, who “journeyed down to Washington” with hopes of making America a better place, were treated unfairly. For shame, federal investigators.

Trump apologized to a nation thirsting for more rants against the Mueller investigation, claiming that he simply has too many other presidential responsibilities, like wondering whether Disney CEO Bob Iger will call him to apologize in the wake of ABC firing Roseanne Barr.

JUNE

It wasn’t a good year for Trump attacking the intelligence of — and, in this case, threatening — people of color who oppose him. In January, Rep. Waters will become the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, a position that will give her the power to subpoena the president’s tax returns.

Trump’s inability to pass significant border legislation despite Republicans controlling the House and the Senate is mostly his own fault. After signing an executive order that ostensibly placed the onus on Congress to end the administration’s family separation policy, the president offered little guidance to House Republicans. After failing to endorse either immigration bill put forth by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and even telling Republicans to “stop wasting their time” with immigration, Trump abruptly endorsed a compromised version of the bill the morning it was set to go to vote. It was too late, though. Nothing passed. As the year draws to a close, Trump’s relationship with Congress hasn’t gotten any less confused, nor will it once Democrats take over next month.

Trump spent plenty of time in demonizing the media in 2018. A man was arrested for threatening to kill staffers at the Boston Globe after Trump attacked the paper on Twitter. Another man was arrested for attempting to bomb CNN, which Trump has repeatedly admonished, along with several prominent Democratic figures. In June, five members of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, were killed by a lone gunman. Trump offered thoughts and prayers, but didn’t refrain from referring to the media as the “enemy of the people.” When he did so in early December, Josh McKerrow, a photojournalist for the Gazette, responded with a story about how every year he does a story on the holiday decorations at the governor’s residence, and how this year was his first year doing it without Wendi Winter, who was killed in June. “I cried on and off all day,” McKerrow wrote. “I miss her very much. I’m comforted that in a way she’s still with me, when I do the work that she loved to do. Journalism. Patriotic, truth telling, American. We’ll keep on doing the work.”

JULY

Among the words and phrases Trump has capitalized in 2018: Big Deals, Drones, Drugs, Gangs, Technology, Not True, Never Ending Wars, Concrete Wall, Ocean Area Fence, Steel Slat Barrier, Judicial Activism, Gasoline Prices, Brutal and Extended Cold Blast, Country, Nation, City, Great U.S.A., Enemy of the People, Approval Rating, Election Theft, Big Victory, Packed House, Firefighters, Policeman, Rat, Nuclear Button, Holiday Season, Strong Dollars, Smocking Gun, Scott Free, Angry Dems, Presidential Harassment, Soy Beans, Prison Time, Ridiculous, Congressional Subpoena, Maximum Criminal Penalties, JOY TO THE WORLD.

AUGUST

Not a Good Year for Trump Insulting the Intelligence of people of color, Part II.

In which Trump claims to know more about forest fire management than the forest service. He continued to do so when more fires broke out in November. All told, 2018 was the most deadly wildfire season on record in California. Trump never acknowledged that climate change may have played a role.

He must not have found the time.

SEPTEMBER

Perhaps the most memorable of Trump’s late-year video addresses, none of which seem to have been thought out before the camera started rolling. “This is a tough hurricane,” Trump said in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. “One of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water. Rarely have we had an experience like it, and it certainly is not good.”

Judge Kavanaugh, like Manafort, was just another idealist with stars in his eyes before the Democrats tried to ruin his life. In reality, the future Supreme Court justice’s unhinged, emotional and sarcastic testimony regarding his alleged history of sexual assault led a coalition of legal experts, including former conservative justice John Paul Stevens, to declare him unfit to serve on the nation’s highest court.

OCTOBER

Putin denied Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election. Trump believed him, despite the findings of the U.S intelligence community. Mohammed bin Salman denied ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump believed him, despite the findings of the U.S. intelligence community.

As it became clear that Democrats were likely to regain control of the House of Representatives, Trump resorted to flat-out lying in order to convince Americans to vote Republican. Not only does the GOP not support people with pre-existing conditions, Republicans were actively working to strip protections. “Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!” wrote the president who “somewhat” prides himself on his ability to write.

NOVEMBER

More pre-midterms desperation. Also see: Trump promising a big tax cut for the middle class that was clearly never going to happen.

Though he had been promising a Red Wave for much of 2018, the midterms saw Democrats pick up a whopping 40 seats in the House. Thank you to all!

There is no limit to how far Trump will sink when he feels he has been slighted. In this case, he diminished the killing of Osama Bin Laden because the man who oversaw the mission, Admiral William H. McRaven, had criticized him.

Just a reminder that the president of the United States doesn’t believe in climate change because it gets cold sometimes.

DECEMBER

Just a reminder that Trump doesn’t see a trade war with the world’s second-largest economy as much more than another opportunity to brand himself.

Maybe the most breathtaking of the president’s 2018 tweets came after the Southern District of New York and the special counsel’s office filed sentencing memos for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer who said in court that his former boss directed him to commit felony campaign finance violations. In its memo, the SDNY wrote that it had corroborated Cohen’s claim, and that Cohen “acted in coordination and at the direction of” Trump when he made the pre-election hush money payments to bury the stories of Stormy McDaniels and Karen McDougal’s alleged affairs with the president. In other words, federal prosecutors claimed that the president committed a felony. Nothing to see here.

The government is currently shut down because of Trump’s obsession with constructing a border wall. The day the shutdown became official, Trump tried to debunk claims that the wall is “old fashioned” technology by citing the enduring utility of the wheel. “There is nothing better,” Trump wrote of wheels before claiming that he knows tech “better than anyone.” Later that day, Trump tweeted a cartoon rendering of a steel slat barrier with pointy spikes on top of it. It’s unclear where the image came from, but it wasn’t one of the prototypes under consideration.

Despite knowing full well that the wall will not be funded, the government remains shut down out of some misguided show of strength from the president, depriving thousands of federal employees their holiday paychecks. Bonita Williams, a janitor at the State Department, had planned on buying her grandchildren a bike for Christmas. Her plans were snuffed out by the shutdown. “My supervisor told me we won’t be getting paid,” she told the Washington Post, “so my bills won’t be getting paid.” Happy holidays from the Trump administration.

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