Donald Trump has permanently shut down his blog after just 29 days. But he’s still making news.
The question is whether he’s making the kind of news he would prefer.
I’ve rarely seen a single reporter’s tweet get so much traction. But Maggie Haberman of the New York Times has put in play a notion that goes far beyond the familiar Trump complaints about a stolen election:
“Trump has been telling a number of people he is in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August.”
NAOMI OSAKA, ADMITTING DEPRESSION, DOUBLE-FAULTED BY STIFFING THE PRESS
Haberman is the most wired of all the Trump reporters, having covered him in New York long before he was in politics. As president, he often dumped on her but continued to deal with her (some of the time), and he’s granted her an interview for her forthcoming book.
Still, I was expecting a signature statement saying she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But as of now, Trump has chosen not to deny the account.
Even if you believe there was widespread fraud in 2020—which was not proven by Bill Barr’s Justice Department or by dozens of lawsuits—this reported assertion is not grounded in reality. The election is over. Trump is not coming back to the White House, at least not for the next 3-1/2 years, and Joe and Jill Biden are not moving out. There is no law, and nothing in the Constitution, that would allow for this.
BIDEN, SEEN AS INCREASINGLY LIBERAL, WOULD EXPLODE THE DEFICIT WITH NEW BUDGET
Haberman told CNN that Trump is “echoing things that are being said by Sidney Powell,” his former lawyer, and also “by Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, who has been pushing this for some time.” That, of course, doesn’t make it true. Trump distanced himself at the end of his term from Powell, who said in Dallas over the weekend that “it should be that he can simple be reinstated, that a new Inauguration Day is set. And Biden is told to move out of the White House.”
Haberman, who has taken some heat for her report—while making clear it won’t happen—noted on “New Day” that “the difference between them saying it and Donald Trump saying it is one is the former president, one is a possible future party nominee…And this is something that some of his supporters will hear and take seriously when he says it.”
If Trump wants to send a signal to the Q’Anon crowd, he knows how to do it. I don’t believe he is intentionally whipping this up. He may not be shutting it down, but there’s no point in his raising expectations for a summertime return to power that he knows full well is not going to happen.
Another onetime member of his inner circle, Michael Flynn, went in a darker direction. The former national security adviser, who pled guilty to lying to the FBI and was pardoned by Trump, was asked at a Texas conference last weekend about the military coup in Myanmar—and why couldn’t something like that happen here.
After a pause, Flynn said: “No reason. I mean, it should happen here.”
Days later, after denunciations from pundits and such lawmakers as Liz Cheney, Flynn backtracked. Saying he is “no stranger to media manipulating my words,” the retired general claimed he had meant the opposite: “Let me be VERY CLEAR – There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort.”
The problem is it was captured on video. You can check it out for yourself.
SUBSCRIBE TO HOWIE’S MEDIA BUZZMETER PODCAST, A RIFF OF THE DAY’S HOTTEST STORIES
The former president can’t address this on his now-shuttered blog, which generated only modest traffic because it was all one-way posting. Readers couldn’t comment or “like” anything. Adviser Jason Miller told CNBC that a broader social media platform is still in the works.
Trump can still make news any time he wants. But a recent appearance on Newsmax drew just 295,000 viewers—or, as the Wrap put it, less than a rerun of Food Network’s “Chopped.”
It’s very much in Trump’s political interest to keep complaining about the election, making him more of a force in the midterms and fueling interest in a possible 2024 bid. But this wild chatter about him returning to power in two months doesn’t serve anyone—except pundits who want to use it to keep attacking their old nemesis.