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Trump Is Pretending He’s Too Good for Twitter

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty Images/@realDonaldTrump/Twitter

On Saturday, after months of speculation about if and when Elon Musk would let Donald Trump back on Twitter, Musk reversed the ban that had kept the former president off the platform since January 2021. And then … nothing happened. You can see all of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets again (minus several tweets he issued during the Capitol Riot, which he deleted just before he was banned for inciting violence), but that’s about it. Trump didn’t immediately come running back to Twitter, which was interpreted as him “snubbing” Musk. But it’s probably a win-win situation, as they’re both messy billionaires who live for drama.

Shortly after announcing his deal to buy Twitter, Musk confirmed in May that he intended to reverse Trump’s permanent ban. But Trump never took the bait. Just hours after Musk’s deal to buy Twitter was announced, Trump told Fox News that while he was happy for the Tesla–SpaceX–Boring Company CEO, “I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth.”

“Stay” was an odd word to use, as Trump had posted only one message to his own flailing Twitter clone at the time. Since then, he’s drastically increased his “truthing” rate and has continued to insist that he’s perfectly happy on the site. Many doubt that, as he has about 4 million followers on Truth Social, far fewer than the 88 million he had on Twitter. But the public conversation about unbanning the former president has been driven by Musk, not Trump.

This dynamic was apparent over the weekend. On Friday afternoon, Musk announced that he was reversing the bans on several prominent accounts but still mulling what to do about Trump:

Then he launched a public poll on the future of Trump’s account and proclaimed “the people have spoken” when he won by a narrow margin:

Less than a month ago, Musk said people who violated Twitter’s rules wouldn’t be allowed back on the site “until we have a clear process for doing so” and suggested that would involve Twitter’s “content moderation council,” not just an anonymous online poll.

While Musk was mulling what to do about Trump over the weekend, the ex-president was busy with a Truth Social rant against the new special counsel to handle the Justice Department’s probes against him — or, as Trump put it, “the appointment of a Radical Left Prosecutor.” On Saturday night, he interrupted his tirade briefly to note that he was winning Musk’s poll but would be staying on his “special!” site.

And around the same time, the official Truth Social account sent out a video with the message “MUST WATCH” and three “fire” emojis. In the clip, which was recorded for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference on Saturday, Trump said that he saw no reason to return to the social-media platform that helped make him president.

“Truth Social is through the roof. It’s doing phenomenally well,” he said. “Truth Social has been very, very powerful, very, very strong, and I’ll be staying there. But I hear we’re getting a big vote to also go back on Twitter. I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it.”

It’s hard to imagine Trump staying off Twitter entirely as his 2024 campaign ramps up (if Twitter continues to exist). And there’s really nothing stopping him. He has renegotiated his deal with Trump Media & Technology Group, Truth’s parent company, so his musings are only exclusive to Truth for six hours. Plus the agreement now says that Trump “may make a post from a personal account related to political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the-vote efforts on any social media site at any time.”

But if Trump rushed back to Twitter, he’d look like a loser, and it would be obvious that he was lying about his passion for Truth. He’d much rather make Elon Musk beg — and on Sunday night, Musk obliged with a tweet teasing Trump about his efforts to resist the platform.

While Musk’s grand, dumb overture has yet to lure the former president back to Twitter, it wasn’t exactly a failure for him either. He got to play the free-speech-loving badass while briefly distracting people from reports that Twitter is on the verge of collapsing thanks to his maximum-chaos management style. When everyone involved is just stirring up drama to satisfy their childish need for attention, there are no losers.

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Trump Is Pretending He’s Too Good for Twitter