Donald Trump really has no chill at the moment – and very minimal Christmas spirit.
It all started on Thursday, when Trump – with less than a month left as president – decided to block a $900bn Covid relief bill which Congress had just managed to push through despite bitter partisan differences in what it should contain.
The main source of contention have been the stimulus checks, which progressive Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued should be at least $1,200 (like the last stimulus checks which were issued back in April), while Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell tried to drop stimulus checks from the bill entirely.
Eventually, Congress agreed on a broad package which included a $600 amount for the checks, along with unemployment benefits of $300 a week for 11 weeks, and targeted financial aid for small businesses.
But Trump wasn’t happy, and lashed out against the plans, pushing for $2,000 checks – which Democrats back – and criticising the foreign aid budget which is wrapped up in the bill. To be clear, Trump is opposing two decisions supported by fellow Republicans.
Trump’s suggestion that he would not sign the bill and might even veto it has caused chaos in Washington, as lawmakers rush to pass the bill before 14 million Americans risk losing their unemployment benefits today.
So what would you guess a president might do under these circumstances? Try and sow unity? Address the nation in a positive way? Or stay at his golfing resort and go on a frienzied Twitter rant for days on end?
Yep, the latter is the one.
On Christmas Day we saw him tweeting in favour of $2,000 checks while still blaming China – and not Trump’s bizarre and ineffectual response – for the impact the pandemic has had on the US. He continued by bemoaning his wife’s lack of appearances on magazine covers, retweeting a bunch of people who praised him and continuing to spread baseless theories about voter fraud and claiming he won the election.
Which brings us to Boxing Day, or as it is known in the US, simply the day after Christmas Day, for the next instalment of Trump’s Twitter rambles.
He begins at 7:19am Florida time, retweeting an article by CNBC announcing Trump’s vetoing of the defence bill and explaining his reasons.
This is a slightly tricky one to unpack. The defence bill is not controversial in Congress and passed with strong bipartisan support, meaning the president’s veto will likely just be overturned.
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in response: “Donald Trump just vetoed a pay raise for our troops so he can defend dead Confederate traitors," while Nancy Pelosi described the president’s actuals as “disturbing”.
Trump then goes on to retweet a similar article from CBS Evening News and a tweet from Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson quoting from his letter to Congress.
Shortly after, at around 7:44am, Trump quote-tweets journalist Paul Szoldra’s images of Trump’s statement, and rails against Section 230* a little more.
Basically, Trump really really wants his followers to know that he vetoed the bill. The odd thing about it is that the news is three days old, yet the president’s giddy retweeting is treating it as a breaking story.
*Section 230 essentially stops online content platforms such as social media companies from being legally liable (in other words, from people suing them) based on what its users post. It’s a complicated issue but you can read more about why Trump so desperately wants to revoke it here.
Immediately, we’re faced with another three retweets – Trump is now just hitting that button every time he sees a tweet from people he thinks like him, it seems.
Trump then goes on to (perhaps accidentally?) retweet a post from Arizona Republican Representative Mark Finchem from… 12 days ago.
Aaand back to the conspiracy theories at 8am, when Trump goes on a five-tweet rant – with each one flagged as a “disputed claim” – discrediting the election result with zero evidence.
Until 9am when he sends perhaps the most egregious tweet of all, claiming that a “young military man" told him that Afghanistan’s elections were “far more secure” than the 2020 US election, and went on to claim it was “the election of a third-world country”.
So outrageous was this statement that Twitter replaced its warning about the claims being disputed with one simply advising people to read about how voting by mail is perfectly safe and secure.
Needless to say, it didn’t go down well.
If you thought we were done, at least for the morning, think again. Barely an hour later at 9:10am Trump is back to tweeting about the $600 stimulus checks that his own party approved.
That really is it for now. Perhaps Trump is off for a festive breakfast or another round of golf. At the time of writing it’s not even midday in Florida though, so buckle up, there may be a lot more where this came from.