For approximately six minutes today, Trump’s Twitter account was no longer active. His @realDonaldTrump handle instead revealed an error page.
While the account is now once again live, indications have pointed to the potential legal risks that his “reckless tweeting” poses. Former White House special counsel for ethics under former President Barack Obama, Norm Eisen, published an op-ed in USA Today in which he explained how Trump’s tweets about special counselor Robert Mueller’s indictments could be targeted for obstruction of justice.
To say the least, it is very unusual for the president of the United States to attack a witness who is cooperating with the United States an ongoing federal investigation,” Eisen writes. “It raises obstruction of justice and witness intimidation questions, just as it did when the president similarly went after former FBI Directory James Comey [sic].Think about it: When you are a witness in a case that threatens the most powerful man in the world, and he attacks you publicly, that is scary.”
In particular, Trump’s tweets about George Papadopoulos, the former foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI, insisting that there was “no collusion” have allegedly increased the likelihood of Mueller taking action against the President.
“By attacking Papadopoulos as a liar, Trump hardly signals his good faith to Mueller,” Eisen writes. “After all, Mueller is offering Papadopoulos’s testimony as true. So Trump is not just assaulting the special counsel’s cooperator; Trump is contradicting Mueller, and maybe even hinting that Mueller is intentionally offering the testimony of a liar.”
Whether Trump’s Twitter account going down was intentional or not, it may very well have been the best move the President could have made amid a scandal that is rapidly closing in on him and his associates.