President Trump's Twitter has him in the hot seat once again. The president retweeted an account with a history of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic messages. Specifically he shared on Sunday a GIF of himself hitting a golf ball at former Secretary of State Clinton, nailing her in the back and causing her to fall over. To some, that's an endorsement of violence against women. And then Sunday morning Republican Rep. Chris Collins defended Trump's Twitter usage — if not specifically this retweet.
The retweet was just the latest (and most offensive) Twitter misstep for the president. Another tweet of the president's earlier Sunday about Kim Jong-un was also raising tensions just before Trump headed to the U.N. for his first visit of supposed diplomacy. He called the North Korean leader "rocket man." Despite the potential deadly stakes of the standoff with North Korea, Collins doesn't find anything wrong with this, and he focused on defending the president's use of Twitter more generally:
One thing about President Trump, he doesn’t stand on protocol at all, whether it's the way he interacts with crowds and calls people up on stage. He’s just a fun guy, he really is if anyone would get to know him. So I think, you know, the stuffy diplomats at the UN are going to be taken aback a bit, and that goes for the way he handles his Twitter account, which is him speaking directly like people do as they’re having a cup of coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts.
Then the CNN host, Alisyn Camerota, zeroed in on the retweet, asking him if he thought the "obviously doctored" video was funny. Collins claimed not to have seen the retweet, "if that's what you're saying it was."
Camerota then explains that it was a retweet from this offensive account with "kind of a vulgar name." She then lays out the potential problem. "It shows what some are calling violence against Hillary Clinton. What do you think of that?" Camerota asks.
Collins denies that's what it is. "Well, we know it would not be that," he tells her. Then he pivots to his own social media and chain email policy:
I don’t retweet or forward anything from my account… because anything and everything can be taken out of context, so I just have established in myself, if I get an email from someone, even if I think it's hysterical, I don't forward it on because the next person may not think so, and I'm not the author of it.
One comment that Collins makes earlier in the broadcast is also very telling, that Trump knows his audience when he tweets things out. "Let’s face it, whenever he’s tweeting he’s talking straight to his base, they enjoy it, and he’s delivering a message,” Collins explained, referencing the rocket man tweet.
But the same arguably applies here. He knows that his followers will like an attack on Clinton, no matter how inappropriate. There's the aspect of violence against women, but then the fact that she's a political opponent is equally troublesome.
This is not the first time that he's suggested at violence against Clinton. During the campaign he talked about how Clinton favors gun control legislation but relies on armed body guards. "She doesn't want guns. ... Let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous," Trump said at a rally last September.
That also should have been decried by politicians from his party, but that was overlooked, just like the latest GIF has not led to much backlash from those within his own party. It seems that the Twitter vetting John Kelly has wanted didn't find much traction with the president.