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Trump Defends His Twitter Musings, But Aides Worry


A screenshot taken June 6, 2017, shows President Donald Trump's Twitter page.
A screenshot taken June 6, 2017, shows President Donald Trump's Twitter page.

U.S. President Donald Trump is defending his frequent 140-character messages on Twitter, saying it's his way of reaching the public without his words being filtered through traditional news outlets.

Trump claimed Tuesday on Twitter, his favorite social media link to the world, that the mainstream media was trying to keep him from using the medium. He said Twitter is his way to get an "unfiltered message out" to the public.

In another tweet, he said if he'd relied on mainstream media, which he referred to as "fake news," he would not have won the election.

Reporters writing about Trump's White House are actually not the ones attacking his use of social media, but some of his aides and fellow Republicans in Congress have often suggested that Trump ought to curtail his thought-of-the-moment postings he makes at virtually any hour of the day.

Some Trump aides have often been hard-pressed to explain what Trump meant in some of his tweets.

At times, some Republicans have suggested that Trump's remarks on social media should not be taken seriously. But Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters, "They're considered official statements by the president of the United States."

Spicer called Trump "the most effective messenger on his agenda," noting that his social media comments reach nearly 110 million people.

In his latest barrage of Twitter comments this week, he quoted London's Muslim mayor out of context and then assailed him for his response to the deadly attacks in the British capital.

He also complained that his own Justice Department was at fault in its defense of his ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries and attacked U.S. courts as "slow and political" in keeping the country safe from terrorism.

Trump's defense of his Twitter habit came a day after one of his aides, Kellyanne Conway, criticized the U.S. media for having “this obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president.”

‘It's not policy’

Sebastian Gorka, a senior White House national security official, sought to downplay the importance of Trump's Twitter comments.

"They are not policy," he told CNN. "It's not policy. It's social media."

Asked repeated questions by reporters about Trump's tweets, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday, "They matter in the sense that it gives him a communications tool, again that isn't filtered through media bias. But at the same time I do think that the media obsesses over every period, dot."

Trump's Twitter comments on his travel ban could play a role as his administration appeals adverse court rulings to the Supreme Court. Lower court decisions blocking the travel bans have partly cited Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric from his campaign for the White House as one reason to show that the travel ban constitutes illegal religious discrimination against Muslims.

Later Monday, Conway's husband, George Conway, who had just withdrawn his name from consideration for appointment to a top-level Justice Department position, criticized Trump's tweets on the travel ban, one of which said a tougher version should still be in place, not the one being appealed to the Supreme Court.

George Conway said the president's Twitter comments won't help him get a five-member majority on the nine-member Supreme Court, "which is what actually matters. Sad."

​Spicer, at Tuesday's White House briefing, dismissed concerns about Trump's tweets affecting the appeal before the Supreme Court. "The danger is real, the law is clear," Spicer said, "and there's no question we should prevail at the Supreme Court."

Trump seems undeterred about critics of his Twitter remarks.

Last year, before he was elected as the country's 45th president, Trump asked a campaign rally, "You know who says don't use Twitter? Your enemies."