Insiders within both of the two major U.S. political parties have expressed concern that billionaire Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter could potentially result in former President Donald Trump being allowed back on the platform.
Trump was banned from the site more than a year ago for spewing incendiary rhetoric regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol building by a mob of his loyalists on January 6, 2021. Although Musk has not yet stated whether he would lift Trump’s ban from the site, comments he made after his $44 billion purchase of Twitter on Monday seem to indicate that he will move in that direction.
Musk has described himself as an “absolutist” of free speech principles, despite having a documented history of censoring his workers for expressing pro-union sentiments. He recently said in a statement that “Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”
Both Democrats and Republicans are worried that Musk’s purchase of the site could mean Trump’s return. According to reporting from CNBC, officials in the Biden White House are “closely watching the deal,” and fear that Trump’s potential Twitter comeback might result in an increase in disinformation, as the former president frequently used the platform to promote lies back when he was allowed on the site.
“Trump will use Twitter to do far more damage to regain power in 2022 and 2024 while Elon Musk has given no indication that he will do anything to stop him,” Mary Anne Marsh, a veteran Democratic strategist, said to CNBC.
Republicans appear to be similarly concerned about the possibility of Trump returning to Twitter. According to a report from Politico, “no one is more petrified” about the potential return of the former president to the platform “than members of Trump’s own party.”
In a series of calls Politico reporters made on Monday night to Republican insiders, not a single one spoke positively about the possibility that Trump would be allowed to return to the platform.”Every single one of them told us that they hoped the former president stays the hell away from Twitter,” the news agency reported.
Republican strategists are worried that if Trump returned to the site, it could hurt the GOP’s chances to flip control of either house of Congress in this year’s midterm races. While most prognosticators have predicted that Republicans will win, some polls have indicated that the race for Congress will be tight, not the slam dunk that some Republicans have said it will be.
Allowing Trump to resume his erratic tweeting would not work to their advantage, Republicans have said.
“If I’m a Democrat, I’d pray that Elon Musk puts Trump right back on Twitter,” one GOP House leadership aide told Politico. A Trump return to the site is “enough to create headaches — and it’s enough to probably cost us a couple seats,” that aide added.
Trump has claimed that he won’t return to Twitter, as he is instead focused on promoting his own social media site, Truth Social. “I want everybody to come over to TRUTH — conservatives, liberals, whatever,” Trump said in a Fox News interview this week.
But because Trump’s site has failed miserably since its opening earlier this year — and because he filed a lawsuit against Twitter last fall seeking to have his account reinstated — most are guessing Trump will attempt to return to Twitter at some point.
Trump “loved his Twitter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” an adviser close to Trump said.
“The lure of Twitter … may prove as irresistible for Trump,” GOP strategist Doug Heye said to Politico, adding that there’s “no faster way for Trump to be front and center [in] the political conversation than rejoining Twitter, and he knows that.”