President-elect Donald Trump, left, walks with his son Barron, center, and wife Melania, to speak at an election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President-elect Donald Trump, left, walks with his son Barron, center, and wife Melania, to speak at an election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

To tweet or not to tweet

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By Anna Kayser
anna-kayser@uiowa.edu

Some Iowa politicians and experts differ on the significance behind President Trump’s unconventional use of Twitter to relay information to the American public.

“Trump has been very effective at using Twitter over the course of his campaign and presidency,” said Cary Covington, a University of Iowa political-science associate professor.

Covington noted that it has helped Trump shape his agendas for the media and the public.

“In terms of the content, he has been less than circumspect in some of the claims and charges that he makes,” Covington said.

On March 4, Trump tweeted allegations, without providing any evidence, that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign.

“I certainly would rather that evidence was presented, and there’s probably a better way to go about that,” Johnson County Republican head Matt Evans said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that on Jan. 19, a story was published in the New York Times implying that the White House was involved, so there might be evidence to back up Trump’s claim.

The Times article, however, reported that U.S. intelligence agencies had conducted surveillance on foreign nationals, some of whom were in contact with the Trump people.

In the controversies sparked by Trump’s tweets, it is possible that he is attempting to draw attention away from things he doesn’t want the media to focus on. Covington said that either Trump doesn’t have the discipline to avoid controversy, or it could be designed to divert attention.
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“The time spent that we are talking about Obama tapping the wires is time that we are not spending talking about him [Trump] associating with the Russians,” Covington said.

He believes that while Trump’s tweets are reinforcing some of his supporters, the trust of those who didn’t vote for him is eroding rapidly.

“His ability to reach across the aisle is greatly hampered by the way he conducts himself on Twitter,” Covington said.

During the campaign, Covington said,  Trump claimed he could stand on the street and shoot someone and his supporters would still stand by him.

There is really no telling how far Trump supporters’ trust of the administration goes, Covington noted, and whether there is a line that could eventually be crossed.

“It’s hard to imagine what that would be; it would have to be something unavoidable,” Covington said.

He has asked some Trump supporters whether there is a line that could be crossed, Covington and, he has never received a good answer.

“There’s a line for everybody; I don’t know what the line is,” Evans said. “There’s a lot of allegations of Russian ties on both sides of the aisle.”

Evans also said he thinks that everything happening is part of a bigger mess on not only the Republican side but the Democratic side as well.

“You’ve got to stop to think; this president has been in office for six weeks,” Grassley said. “There are 46 months to go, so I don’t think you’re going to make a decision based upon just six weeks of office.”