Twitter on Friday permanently suspended the president’s @realDonaldTrump account, and with it, his direct access to nearly 90 million followers.
The move by the social media giant — after months of flagging many of Trump’s tweets with warnings — came after the company said the president violated its policies.
While many conservatives blasted the move, the political consequences for the president were immediate, and likely extremely painful.
“There’s still other ways for him to get his message out, but this hurts,” a veteran Republican strategist who worked for Trump told Fox News.
The strategist, who asked for anonymity to speak more freely on the record, said that Trump’s tens of millions of supporters and followers “are immediately not able to talk to him anymore.”
“That is a major blow to him. That is how he’s been able to get his base on the same page with what he wants them to do and without that, it’s going to be very tough for him.”
The move by Twitter capped a week tumultuous week for the president — and the nation.
The president on Friday faced a rising chorus of calls from congressional Democrats, as well as some Republicans for his immediate removal from office — either by resignation, impeachment or through the use of the 25th Amendment.
Two days earlier, Trump supporters, protesting the joint session of Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over the president, stormed the Capitol. Five people, including a Capitol Hill police officer, died. The attack forced the building into lockdown, and the House and Senate were suspended for six hours until the building was cleared of intruders.
The president, at a rally near the White House that he headlined earlier Wednesday, had encouraged supporters to march to the Capitol and show strength in opposing the certification of an election that he had repeatedly claimed he had won and that had been stolen.
Two of Trump’s cabinet secretaries and some top White House staffers resigned in protest of the president’s actions. And a growing number of high-ranking GOP lawmakers and other elected officials blasted the president for seemingly sparking the storming of the Capitol.
The attack came just hours after the Democrats narrowly won both Senate runoff elections in Georgia, giving them a razor-thin majority in the Senate to go along with their slight majority in the House of Representatives. With Biden’s inauguration less than two weeks away, the Democrats will soon control both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.
Trump is facing plenty of blame by some in the party for the GOP losses in Georgia, due to his repeated claims that his narrow defeat in the state to Biden was due to fraud, and for his numerous vocal attacks on Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state for refusing to aid his attempts to upend the state’s election results.
Trump’s “horrific” week comes as the soon-to-be-former president has vowed to remain extremely influential in Republican Party politics after he leaves the White House. And it comes as he’s pledged to support primary challenges in the 2022 midterm elections against Republican governors and senators who refused to aid his multiple unsuccessful efforts to upend his presidential election defeat and stay in power.
But Trump’s formidable clout in a party he reshaped and owned the past four years has clearly taken a hit.
Longtime Republican consultant David Carney, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns over the course of three decades, said the past few days have been “a horrific disaster” for Trump.
Reacting to the move by Twitter, the president said in a statement on Friday night that “I predicted this would happen. We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!”
But it wasn’t only Twitter: Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts are also suspended, at least through the end of his presidency, and possibly longer.
Carney, a top political adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, said the potential long-term lockout from his social media platforms would “be a huge crushing blow to his prospects to being a kingmaker in the future because those are his go-to platforms… It will be difficult to be much of an influencer without those platforms.”
The president, at Wednesday’s rally near the White House, called GOP lawmakers and officials who opposed his push to upend the presidential election “weak Republicans.” And he told his supporters that “we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them. We’re going to let you know who they are. I can already tell you, frankly.”
The comments by Trump contained some of his most explosive language to date against fellow party members and could potentially have major implications in the next midterm elections, when the Republicans will try to recapture both houses of Congress and expand their control of the governorships.
Top Trump political adviser Corey Lewandowski highlighted at the beginning of the week that “the president has raised northwards of a quarter of a billion dollars since Election Day for his campaign and that will give him the opportunity to target individuals who don’t support the Make America Great Again agenda in 2022, and that includes Republicans.”
“You’ve got someone who is unbelievably popular, who has enormous amounts of cash on hand, and has the opportunity and desire to weigh in and hold people accountable for both their statements and their records,” Lewandowski told Fox News.
Trump’s hopes to play a kingmaker role in 2022 come as he’s also flirting with a 2024 presidential bid to try and reclaim the White House.
But longtime Republican fundraiser and lobbyist David Tamasi emphasized that, for Trump, “the line was crossed… forever.”
Tamasi, who raised money for Trump in 2016 and 2020, told Fox News that “politically there might be a path forward for him to try and rally certain primary challenges in certain red states, either in the House or the Senate. That’s his business.”
But he stressed that “you’re not going to see any financial support from Washington or from the business community or any Republican who is not associated with the fringe.”
Dan Eberhart, a major GOP donor and bundler who also helped raise money for the president, told Fox News that “the desecration of the Capitol is not going to be forgotten.”
He also charged that Trump’s rhetoric in the Georgia runoff elections “cost Senate Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell his leadership position.”
Although Trump has taken a hit, he can still point to plenty of metrics to show his clout with his party.
While only eight Senate Republicans stood by the president’s push to reverse the election results following the attack on the Capitol, roughly two-thirds of House Republicans remained with Trump. That large group included the top two House Republicans: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
Trump can also tout the 74 million Americans who voted for him in November’s presidential election. Ahead of this week, the president’s approval rating among Republicans had stayed in the stratosphere
Trump’s approval rating stood at 86% in a Fox News national poll and at 90% in an NPR/PBS/Marist survey, which were both conducted in early December, and nine out of 10 Republicans gave him a thumbs up in a USA Today/Suffolk University national poll conducted two weeks ago.
New Hampshire State Rep. Fred Doucette, who served as Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaign co-chair in the Granite State, highlighted that the president is “absolutely” going to have influence going forward. “I think he’s going to remain a force,” he told Fox News.
Doucette noted that “the core Trump supporters are Republicans but some of the president’s ardent backers are more supporters of the president than necessarily the Republican Party.”
But he also acknowledged that “anybody would be foolish to say” that this week’s events weren’t “going to have an effect. It will definitely have an effect.”
The question going forward is — how much of an effect?
“It’s just way too early to know what happens,” Carney added.