Politics

Trump’s Morning Tweets Are One-Way White House Briefing

Hours before Russia briefing, PEOTUS gloats over Schwarzenegger’s low ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ ratings

President-elect Donald Trump takes a few questions from the press at the Capitol on Nov. 10. His morning tweets appear designed to set the media’s agenda most days. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump will be briefed Friday on what U.S. intelligence has concluded was Russian interference in the election that made him president-elect. But he began his day, as he often does, by tweeting what amounts to a one-way briefing. Among Friday’s topics: “Celebrity Apprentice” ratings.

President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, Josh Earnest, spent much of Thursday answering reporters’ questions that stemmed from a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with U.S. intelligence officials about their conclusion that the Russian government was directly involved in the hacking. Earnest fielded questions about whether the Obama administration's response was strong enough and whether what the Kremlin did should be considered an act of war.

But as the incoming Trump administration mulls its communications strategy, it appears the president-elect is poised to conduct very different daily briefings — 140 characters at a time.

[White House Won’t Call Russia Hacking an Act of War]

Sean Spicer, who will be both communications director and press secretary in the Trump White House, on Wednesday evening said that he checks his boss’ tweets first thing in the morning and does not see them before they go live. Spicer offered a window into Trump’s thinking about the social media posts: “That’s what’s going to drive the news.”

Earnest or his top aide briefs reporters nearly every day that Obama is in Washington, with some exceptions, such as when the president is delivering remarks or traveling. If it’s a travel day, Earnest will brief reporters on Air Force One. It is not uncommon for him to spend 80 minutes or more taking questions from media outlets.

That, however, is about to change come Jan. 20, when Trump will be sworn in.

Spicer told a University of Chicago audience that “there'll be a daily something with the press corps every single day,” but added it likely will not be in front of the White House briefing room cameras each day.

All indications are Trump’s tweets will help fill the void, as reporters seek the 45th president’s views on any number of domestic and foreign policy issues. Friday morning offered a preview.

The president-elect began by countering Thursday reports by Politico and CNN that he now plans to ask Congress for the funds for his promised wall on the Mexico-U.S. border. He tweeted that the Mexican government would repay Washington, if he gets the reinforced steel-and-concrete wall erected. In the same tweet he also criticized the media.

His next two posts targeted Hillary Clinton and her failed campaign, saying the Democratic nominee knew he would defeat her two weeks before Election Day.

Trump was far from finished. There were more foes to vanquish. Three additional tweets followed.

The former “Apprentice” host appeared to have an ax to grind about how he left the show, hammering the ratings for the debut of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hosting “Celebrity Apprentice.” The incoming commander in chief dubbed himself a “ratings machine.”

 

Friday’s mini-briefing was not all about criticizing the media and his opponents. Trump did get in a promo for inauguration festivities, which he promised will be a GREAT SHOW.

Contact Bennett at johnbennett@cqrollcall.com. Follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.